In general venture capital is configured to support initially small, focused interventions to scale rapidly and in doing so deliver a financial return within expected venture capital ranges. This approach necessitates a reductionist perspective that requires the venture to scale and attempts to capture or dominate a particular market segment.
Such an approach runs counter to the wider needs of the digital healthcare world. Evident throughout the research is that the impetus for action sits with the patients, who are intrinsically motivated and whose motivations do not fit well with the extrinsic, profit motives of investors or the organisations they back. Clearly the current money coming into online healthcare is ill-configured. The reality is that significant funding is needed to develop the field in ways that deliver financial returns that don’t turn the heads of the VCs.
So if venture capital is not suited then what kind of capital is? One possible way of rethinking this is to identify sources of finance that are more suited to platform and field wide developments. Sources may include: Pharma, the large health focused foundations, the public sector and the largest of the internet companies. We might call this meta capital, to differentiate it from venture capital.
Meta capital doesn’t mean big amounts of capital (although it might), rather it describes capital aimed at meta activity that furthers the development of the field.