We interviewed Rowena Rizzotti, Healthcare & Innovation Vice President of the Health and Technology District by Lark Group, to learn about the current health tech landscape, including COVID-19’s impact on today’s staff shortages, new digital health options being adopted, and how this affects those looking to innovate.
With over 35 years working towards the improvement of Canada’s overall healthcare system, Rowena Rizzotti, Healthcare & Innovation Vice President of the Health and Technology District explains what is happening in today’s collaborative environment between health organizations and health tech startups, and why planning in advance is key to success.
1. First, can you tell us about your experience in the healthcare and life sciences industry?
I have been in the health care industry for more than 35 years and more recently specialized in business and innovation consulting, as well as strategic advisory roles across multi-site, complex health, technology and business environments. Throughout my career, I’ve held multiple leadership roles, including some of Canada’s most innovative health ecosystems. I am currently Lark Group’s Vice President in Healthcare & Innovation, where I work with both public and private sector enterprises to accelerate the commercialization of health innovations.
2. According to Deloitte, “2021 will likely go down as one of the biggest years ever for digital health-tech investments and revenue growth.” To help new and aspiring entrepreneurs attract investors and/or lenders, which technologies trends and practices are worth their time and effort, and which ones should they ignore?
I agree that we are seeing unprecedented adoption of digital health options that were geared towards access to virtual health alternatives to in-person service delivery across many clinical disciplines. This was a direct impact of COVID-19 and healthcare shift towards virtual health visits and digital options. In addition, we are seeing this as a more client/consumer friendly option in some cases as it allows for personal convenience and this trend may continue, particularly in areas like Mental Health (where immediate access to clinical/counselling supports can be readily accessible yet remain private to reduce stigma for those who need and seek assistance) .
We also see this as an alternative solution to support an ever growing physician and practitioner shortage, particularly in rural of remote communities.
3. When should health tech founders seek the equity capital route versus venture debt?
I have come to understand that each Founders path can be very different and while theoretical models can offer helpful guidance, I believe that speaking to experts in the field in the early days of your commercialization pathway is critical in order to design and define your business plan and funding plan well in advance, as certain funding options are best exercised at certain junctions along the process, and it is good to know and leverage those in order to achieve your business milestones.
4. Can you share a piece of advice for founders looking for alternative sources of capital?
Similar to above I strongly encourage every entrepreneur to exhaust all resources available to them and seek strong business advice and guidance well in advance. Organizations like OKR have experts that understand the opportunities and pitfalls of the entrepreneurial road and also are aware of supportive and subsidized funding sources that can be explored along the way. It is impossible to be an expert in all aspects of a new business product so reaching out for supportive assistance can be critical to an entrepreneur’s success.
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