Venture Capital

Wave of innovation in health on the horizon

By April 5, 2011 3 Comments

Tonight I will be attending the London premier of Ray Kurzweil’s Transcendent Man, which IMDB describes as follows:

TRANSCENDENT MAN chronicles the life and ideas of Ray Kurzweil, an inventor and futurist that presents his bold vision of the Singularity, a point in the near future when technology will be changing so rapidly, that we will have to enhance ourselves with artificial intelligence to keep up. Ray predicts this will be the dawning of a new civilization in which we will no longer be dependent on our physical bodies, we will be trillions of times more intelligent and there will be no clear distinction between human and machine, real reality and virtual reality. Human aging and illness will be reversed; world hunger and poverty will be solved and we will ultimately cure death.

I know from personal experience of explaining it that most people find this vision of the future too absurd to contemplate.  Personally I’m persuaded by the direction Kurzweil’s arguments and vision for the future but remain more unsure than he is about how quickly we will get there – I don’t think it will be eons though.  Regular readers might remember a series of posts I wrote about Kurzweil’s ideas a year or so ago where I documented my thoughts in detail.

I bring all this up again today partly because I am excited to be going to the movie and partly because I learned this morning about the existence of Rock Health, a new seed accelerator for health apps.  One of my takeaways from reading Kurzweil (and others since) is that there is a wave of innovation in health on the horizon.  The potential for value creation in improved health, wellness and longevity is immense and the problems we are wrestling with today from disease through to obesity and stress are severe and I think that the low cost technologies which will open up a wave of innovation are starting to become available.  A lot will be based around smart phones and sensors.

Rock Health, which is backed by a bunch of good names including Accel Partners, Qualcom, and NEA, are obviously thinking along the same lines, and I’m hoping their programme will encourage more entrepreneurs into this area.  I’m also hoping that their will be some European companies on the programme.

Applications are made here, and the programme operates much like Y Combinator, Techstars, Seedcamp or Springboard.

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