Saudi Arabia invests USD550 mn in health startup Babylon

The British health technology startup, Babylon, has raised $550 million in an investment round backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, German reinsurer Munich Re’s ERGO Fund and an undisclosed insurer — which a Sky News report identified as Centene. The new funding brings the startup’s valuation to $2 billion.

Babylon provides accessible, affordable healthcare by combining AI with doctors. Founded in 2013 by Ali, Babylon is a digital health service provider that combines AI technology with personalized health assessments, treatment advice and face-to-face appointments with a doctor 24/7.

The start-up is known for its work with the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS). The platform built for NHS let patients book consultations with a doctor over video call using their smartphone. With the Babylon app, you can connect with a GP within minutes via phone or video call, ask simple medical questions via their text service and monitor your health with their comprehensive tracking system. The firm’s chatbot, which patients interact with, scored a higher-than-average test score on a practice exam compiled for physicians.

The startup also has partnerships will Tencent, TELUS and Samsung. They have AI licensing deals with Prudential Asia and BUPA. They also offer end-to-end clinical services in the UK, Rwanda and Canada.

Babylon said that $450 million of capital has already been committed, and includes an option for one investor to pump another $50 million at a later date. The remainder of the round will be closed shortly, the firm added.

Dr Ali Parsa, founder and CEO of Babylon, said in a statement – This investment will allow us to maximise the number of lives we touch across the world. We have a long way to go and a lot still to deliver. We have seen significant demand from partners across the US and Asia. While the burden of healthcare is global, the solutions have to be localized to meet the specific needs and culture of each country.