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NLC Health lands €6m investment from health insurer VGZ

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Published: 7 June 2024

The Dutch healthtech venture builder will use the funds to bring more potentially groundbreaking healthcare innovations to market.

Liftya, one of the healthcare ventures backed by NLC, has developed a mechanism that mimics the natural shoulder joint movement to help those suffering from shoulder instability | Photo provided by NLC Health

NLC Health Ventures (NLC) has received a capital injection of €6m from VGZ, a Dutch-based cooperative healthcare insurer. The two parties said they will form a strategic partnership to develop and grow impactful, innovative companies in healthcare. This is the first investment by an institutional investor in NLC.

The agreement will enable NLC to bring potentially life-changing innovations to patients faster, Bert-Arjan Millenaar, CEO and founder of NLC, told Impact Investor.

Bert-Arjan Millenaar, NLC Health

“It’s much more than money for us, it’s really a partnership,” Millenaar said. Under the partnership, NLC “will still do what it does best, and that is finding early-stage technologies and bringing them to life, to the patients. VGZ can help us further increase the quality of the assessment. And once we select the technology, and once we do build the company, they can help us find a network and they can advice us”.

With 95% of medical innovations failing to reach the patient, NLC is aiming to bridge the gap between potentially groundbreaking inventions and market-ready solutions.

“VGZ can leverage its knowledge and expertise to help companies that are about to enter the market or are in the process of further scaling up in the Netherlands, by offering access to know-how on reimbursements, market size, current care pathways, contracting, and revenue models,” said Kees Hamster, chief financial officer, VGZ.

Since its inception in 2015, NLC has assessed 1,500 inventions a year, and built more than 100 healthtech ventures in the areas of biotech, medtech, green health and digital health, which has positively impacted 247,000 patients. The firm has four funds, which have collectively raised more than €200m, including €30m so far this year.

Impact Investor previously reported on the launch of the NLC Health Impact Fund, which raised €20m at a first close in June last year. Although NLC had initially planned a final close for the fund last month, it has decided to keep it open until the end of this year.

Millenaar blamed a tough fundraising environment, especially for venture capital firms. “It takes more time to raise finance,” he said.

Life-saving healthtech

Millenaar founded NLC a year after his daughter was born prematurely, with the family spending long hours by her incubator at ​the ​hospital. This experience led Millenaar to picking Concord Neonatal, a company founded by scientists from Leiden University Medical Centre who were working on an innovation to help babies have a “​shock-free​​​ birth”, as one of NLC’s first ventures.

“If my daughter was born today in most Dutch hospitals, she would not need to be in an incubator, thanks to this innovation,” he told Impact Investor in an interview last year.  

Another innovative healthtech company brought to market by NLC is Nicolab. Supported by artificial intelligence, Nicolab has managed to improve time-sensitive stroke treatments through information exchange between doctors and hospitals.

More than 250 people in the Netherlands suffer a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA )every day, making it the leading cause of disability in the country, affecting 376,000 people daily. Thanks to Nicolab’s technology, stroke patients now have a better chance of emergency treatment to remove risky clots and are 1.8 times more likely to live independently after a stroke, NLC said.

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