Dubai-based digital health start-up Altibbi raises $44m as it considers future IPO

Company plans to increase its investments in machine learning to support doctors in providing diagnostics, referrals and prescriptions

Jalil Allabadi, left, founder and chief executive of Altibbi, and Ayman Sharaiha, co-founder and chief operating officer. Photo: Altibbi

Dubai-headquartered artificial intelligence health platform Altibbi raised $44 million in its latest series B funding round to expand into new markets and boost its digital offerings as it seeks to become the first publicly listed digital health unicorn in the GCC.

The round was led by Dubai investment firm Foundation Holdings, London-based venture capital company Hikma Ventures and Altibbi’s existing investors including Dubai-headquartered Global Ventures and Amman-based Dash Ventures.

Founded in 2011, Altibbi is one of the region’s largest digital health companies with more than 20 million unique monthly visitors and three million consultations a year. The company has raised more than $50m in funds since its inception, with some of its other investors including Endeavor Catalyst, Middle East Venture Partners and Al Rashed.

Quote
Our objective is to support Altibbi to reach a superior position where its quality, exponential growth and trusted brand will enable them to be the first publicly listed digital health unicorn in the GCC
Abhishek Sharma, chief executive of Foundation Holdings

Altibbi plays a critical role in organising digital healthcare services, improving quality and convenience for patients, and reducing the costs of insurers and governments, said Jalil Allabadi, its founder and chief executive.

“Building an end-to-end platform and strengthening our geographic presence have always been strategic priorities … we are thrilled to complete this significant funding round, with the endorsement of leading financial and strategic investors with strong healthcare and technology expertise,” Mr Allabadi added.

Demand for digital healthcare services has grown amid the coronavirus pandemic and companies are tapping into this segment by refining their business models.

Demand for digital healthcare services has grown amid the coronavirus pandemic. Reuters

Healthcare spending in the GCC region is projected to reach $89 billion this year from $60bn in 2013, global consultancy firm KPMG reported.

Healthcare providers in the Gulf are expanding as the population increases and the cost of treatment grows. Improvements in the quality of health care, along with rising demand for preventive care and digital medical services, are set to drive growth in the industry.

Start-ups in the digital healthcare space have seen growing interest from investors.

In October, Saudi Arabia-based tele-health start-up Cura raised $15m from local investors in an early stage funding round. The series A funding round closed with investments from Saudi Aramco's entrepreneurship arm Wa'ed and information security firm Elm.

“Digital health care is witnessing unprecedented growth and we are set to sail into the golden age of health care and healthcare technology,” said Abhishek Sharma, chief executive of Foundation Holdings.

“Our objective is to support Altibbi to reach a superior position where its quality, exponential growth and trusted brand will enable them to be the first publicly listed digital health unicorn IPO in the GCC,” he added.

Altibbi, which has conducted 4.5 million telehealth consultations to date, has more than 1,500 certified doctors on the platform.

The new funds will be used to expand the platform’s offering into online pharmacy and diagnostics collection. The company also aims to increase its investments in machine learning to support doctors in providing precise diagnoses, referrals and prescriptions.

“Altibbi is re-engineering health care, shifting the focus from sick care to preventive health care so that patients experience better health, and reduced costs,” said Lana Ghanem, managing director of Hikma Ventures.

Updated: March 28, 2022, 3:27 PM
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