- Bahrain-based VC fund Al Waha Fund of Funds has partnered with Israel's LionBird to launch the $85 million LionBird III fund, to help regional startups access the US healthcare market.
- Founded in 2012 in Tel Aviv by Chaim Friedman, Ed Michael, Itschak Friedman, and Jonathan Friedman, LionBird is a US-focused digital health fund that specialises in Seed-stage venture capital, while Al Waha Fund was launched in 2018 as a $100 million fund of funds that has deployed $80 million to 11 venture capital funds to date.
- The partnership could see more Israeli companies choosing Bahrain as a location for their regional headquarters.
Al Waha Fund of Funds today announced its participation in LionBird III, an $85 million digital health-focused fund. Al Waha Fund is partnering with LionBird based on the team's track record of success in helping startups access the burgeoning US healthcare market.
Tel Aviv-based LionBird is a US-focused digital health fund that specialises in seed-stage venture capital and via this partnership will seek to also aid Bahraini and GCC startups in navigating the complex US healthcare market and connecting with the right experts and partners.
“We are very pleased to be able to partner with LionBird in its latest fund and to help startups in the region access advice on digital health best practices, and support in penetrating the lucrative US healthcare market,” commented HE Khalid Al Rumaihi, CEO of Mumtalakat and Vice Chairman of Al Waha Fund.
The US currently spends around 17 per cent of its GDP on healthcare, around twice as much as most other developed countries. Following the pandemic, the US healthcare market is undergoing significant shifts, which are opening new opportunities for startups.
There is a greater focus on health-tech startups as the sector pivots towards outpatient services and solutions such as telemedicine. It is estimated that digital startups in the US raised almost $30 billion in 2021 across 729 deals, with investment in the market nearly doubling compared to 2020.
“By partnering with Al Waha Fund, LionBird now has access to innovation and networking opportunities in Bahrain, expanding our exposure in the MENA region,” said Jonathan Friedman, partner at LionBird. “We believe we are well-positioned to support startups in Bahrain and the region plan their entry into the US market. LionBird’s track record of success and unique combination of network and tools enables us to assist companies throughout their journeys – helping to address business, regulatory, and scientific challenges along the way and to identify the best opportunities for these businesses to scale and succeed.”
HE Khalid Al Rumaihi said: “There are significant opportunities for the region’s startups in international markets, but the lack of access to capital remains a significant challenge for entrepreneurs. Al Waha offers state-backed capital funds to help support entrepreneurs to establish and scale their companies. In doing so, we are helping to accelerate the development of a vibrant startup and venture capital ecosystem in the Middle East.”
He added: “We are committed to connecting the startup ecosystem in Bahrain and the Gulf with others around the world, providing a supportive environment for tech businesses to thrive.”
The partnership between Al Waha Fund and LionBird could also lead to more Israeli companies choosing Bahrain as the location for their Middle East headquarters as they seek to leverage Al Waha Fund’s unique platform of value creation.
Al Waha Fund was launched in 2018 as a $100 million fund with the aim of driving greater venture capital investment in the region. The fund has deployed $80 million to 11 venture capital funds to date.