Biotech and e-health: sectors boosted by the pandemic

E-health and biotech startups, buoyed by the health crisis, received record funding in 2021. Investors supported the market's dynamism, and fund-raising reached historic levels.

Vaccines, online appointments, teleconsultations and mental health

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought biotechs and e-health startups back into the spotlight. Biotechs Moderna and BioNtech were at the center of attention, benefiting from historic public funding to develop messenger RNA vaccines hoped for by the whole world.

The e-health sector has also benefited from this dynamic. The number of online medical appointments and teleconsultations has risen sharply, driven mainly in France by Doctolib. Since the start of the vaccination campaigns, the French unicorn has been in even greater demand, sometimes recording as many as 1.2 million connections in a single day. According to Doctolib, 47 million French people have an account on this e-health service, as do 3 million Italians and around ten million Germans.


Mental health startups have also been a great help to millions of people made vulnerable by the health crisis, even if France still lags behind the UK, the USA and Northern European countries in this area.

12 million French people suffer from mental disorders, according to the Sapiens Institute's "Innovation to the rescue of our mental health" study published in September 2021, and these illnesses entail higher healthcare expenditure than cancers and cardiovascular diseases. Yet funding for specialized French startups remains modest, as mental health is still a taboo subject in France.

Europe catches up with Asia in the e-health sector

Despite some French reluctance, on a global scale, investors have financed e-health startups to the tune of $63 billion in 2021, or 56 billion euros. This is 1.6 times more than in 2020, which was already a record. 41% of these financings resulted in raising over $100 million.

The European market is growing faster than that of the United States, with total financing 2.4 times higher than in 2020, at $10 billion. Europe has almost reached the level of the Asian market, with financing on that continent reaching $10.6 billion in 2021.

However, the United States remains in first place, with investors injecting $38.1 billion into the e-health sector in 2021, 1.5 times more than in 2020.

Unicorns, those startups valued at over $1 billion, are multiplying in the e-health sector. According to Dealroom data, there were 202 at the end of 2021, compared with 132 in 2020. 151 of these are in the United States. Asia takes second place with 25 e-health unicorns, followed by Europe with 19. In France, these include Doctolib, Dental Monitoring, Owkin and Alan.

In the global biotech sector, financing reached $41 billion in 2021, compared with $36.7 billion the previous year.

In Europe, funding remains much more limited than in the US, with $6.5 billion for European startups, compared with $25.6 billion for US startups. At the end of 2021, there were 192 biotech unicorns worldwide, 28 more than in 2020.