For the 32 million individuals in the United States with food allergies, more research into symptoms, causes, and treatments has long been sought, but historically underfunded.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), which oversees disease research, has a total annual budget equivalent to $120 per person, with $0.19 per person spending on food allergy research. That’s a surprisingly low amount, given the number of Americans, adults and children alike, who have food allergies.
The digital health field reached its peak investment in 2021, with total project funding of $29.1 billion. Investments have soared in the wake of the pandemic, with investors increasingly interested in health technology, especially telemedicine. Fortunately for those with food allergies, the food allergy sector has benefited from this influx of funding.
The recent growth of health technology
Previously, there were frequent pushbacks to telemedicine, due to concerns about privacy and quality of care. However, the global shutdown has forced many Americans to take advantage of telehealth, with many patients, doctors and hospitals realizing the benefits after using them directly – and almost 88% of Americans want to stay on non-urgent appointments.
Customer requests have encouraged new partnerships between healthcare providers and technology companies. Finally, there was the digital health tech stack — no need for companies to continue reinventing the wheel, which many of the early players in the space faced.
Food allergy technology innovators now have access to customizable third-party tools for electronic health records, clinical support, billing, and prescriptions. Nowadays, new health technology, pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies operate at a minimum five Partners throughout the inception of the product, greatly accelerating the timeline from idea to market. These kinds of collaborations have made launching a health tech startup cheaper and easier than ever before.
The influx of both capital and interest in health technology has provided established companies and many new startups with an opportunity to grow – particularly in the food allergy space.
The emergence of food allergy pads
With about 11% of adults and 8% of children in the United States dealing with food allergies, taking advantage of healthy technology to safely manage their allergies is an exciting new opportunity.
Food allergies affect people’s daily experiences, and their quality of life can be severely affected. And it concerns not only daily time, but also free time. Studies have shown that 42% Of families with food allergies restrict family vacations, with 90% of breaks being restricted within the United States due to concerns about obtaining safe meals. However, with the recent surge in investment, more people can take advantage of new technology to manage their allergies.
The funding was able to support a variety of different digital innovations related to food allergy. Portable allergen sensors, such as the Allergy Amulet, help alleviate hidden ingredient concerns when dining out. It detects the presence of specific food allergens, allowing people with food allergies to be more confident about what is and isn’t in their food. This can provide a new freedom to eat outside the home that many people with food allergies did not have before.
Some companies specialize in children’s allergies. For example, Super Awesome Care, a virtual clinic for children with food allergies. Within the platform, parents have access to a dedicated care team, made up of pediatric allergists, dietitians, and behavioral therapists, as well as personalized education and a community of other food allergy families.
Furthermore, in 2020, the first venture capital firm dedicated to developing treatments, diagnostics, and products for those with food allergies was created. The AllerFund program shows how far the food allergy community has come and how the “gold rush” in health technology has specifically benefited the food allergy sector.
The future of health technology
Although investment in health technology has decreased, it has decreased 36% From the last quarter, the decline has occurred in many industries, not just health care. Investors had a rallying cry to help fund innovation during the pandemic, and now that pandemic fears are starting to settle, so have contributions. In addition, recent economic conditions have pushed investors away from the market.
Many questions are being asked about the recent dip in investments and how this will affect new and established health technology companies, including food allergy technology platforms. Firms that match the product market are more likely to find a receptive financing environment. For those who haven’t, there may be tough times ahead.
Investors are currently more gun shy and likely need more to take a leap of faith, especially in the early stages. To survive and thrive in this new climate, digital health companies need to focus on their customers and how they are acquired and retained. One of the best ways to do this is to enhance customer satisfaction and provide a great user experience.
It’s not all depressing, however, as new food allergy startups still have the opportunity to win interest and funding from industry giants, such as Johnson & Johnson. The company recently offered grants to innovative startups through Rapid fire challenge to prevent food allergies. The winners of this challenge received $150,000 in funding and mentorship.
Although the health tech industry is currently experiencing a funding stagnation, the current climate will not last forever. The global digital health market is expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate of approx. 25% From 2019 to 2025. The world has finally experienced the life-changing benefits of digital health, and the allergy health technology train will continue to advance.
With digital food allergy solutions finally catching the eye of investors and their huge number of potential customers, it’s clear that innovations will continue to emerge.
About the author
Rania Nasees, MD, MBA is the founder and CEO of Super Awesome Care, a technology-assisted healthcare platform for children with food allergies and their families. As a leading physician and digital health expert, her mission is to provide the best food allergy care to all families, when and where they need it.
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