Cigna's announcement that it will establish a $250 million healthcare venture fund bodes well for Connecticut's future.
Over time, the insurer's fund will help bring research to Connecticut and, with early stage research and development, new businesses and job opportunities.
The new venture capital firm, Cigna Ventures, will invest in start-up companies and early stage research focused on data analytics, digital health and healthcare delivery.
These ventures are about using information technology to improve healthcare outcomes—surgery with fewer complications, more targeted use of medicines—and drive down healthcare costs.
This puts them in a venture capital sweet spot because healthcare, a huge market that's 18% of the U.S. economy, is eager for innovation.
Cigna Ventures will be a valuable complement to the Connecticut bioscience sector in at least two ways.
First, the biopharma and insurance industries have a common interest in research that leads to more effective use of healthcare.
Insurers and biopharma companies, for example, both see great promise in healthcare information technology to more precisely identify what medicines will and won.t work in a given patient.
It's gratifying to see Connecticut's private sector stepping up to bring much-needed venture capital to the healthcare space.
We have Yale, the University of Connecticut, the Jackson Laboratory and many smaller institutions doing an admirable job of producing high value added bioscience R&D.
Private Sector 'Stepping Up'
But we're unlikely to convince other prestigious research institutions—such as Harvard or MIT—to move to Connecticut.
That leaves venture capital, which we definitely can do something about.
Optum, the health services business of UnitedHealth Group Inc., has also created Optum Ventures, a $250 million venture fund focused on startup and early-stage companies.
#CignaNews: Cigna announces #CignaVentures with $250M to invest in promising startups and growth-stage companies that are unlocking new growth possibilities in health care. https://t.co/km3ojed4pn pic.twitter.com/wOYEjDZALo
— Cigna (@Cigna) September 12, 2018
This past legislative session, the General Assembly passed legislation boosting incentives for venture capital firms to move to Connecticut.
And now, it's gratifying to see Connecticut's private sector stepping up to bring much-needed venture capital to the healthcare space.