Toronto-based venture capital firm iGan Partners has teamed up with Dubai-based investment professional and entrepreneur Faisal Belhoul to launch iGan Arabia, a new regional fund targeting the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Through iGan Arabia, iGan and Belhoul will pursue investment opportunities in artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud-enhanced medical devices and digital health solutions, towards the goal of driving medtech innovation across the MENA region. The group aims to raise $250 million USD for iGan Arabia from limited partners, and also hopes to facilitate an additional $250 million in co-investments.
The new regional fund will target the Middle East and North Africa region.
The fund brings together iGan and Belhoul, who have combined experience investing in medtech and supporting healthcare entrepreneurs in Canada, the United States, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)—a regional, intergovernmental political and economic union that consists of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“We see the GCC as a rapidly transformative region, particularly in the healthcare sector,” said Sam Ifergan, founder and CEO of iGan Partners, who will lead the fund’s investment efforts alongside Belhoul. “Through this first of its kind Fund, we will invest locally and will showcase the GCC’s healthcare innovations to the world.”
Ifergan has been engaging with companies and organizations in the UAE and Saudi Arabia since 2018, towards the goal of launching iGan Arabia. iGan Partners’ Director of Investor Relations Kathy Kelly told BetaKit that so far, iGan Arabia has received commitments for “about half the fund,” and anticipates having the fund fully raised by June.
According to Kelly, the fund will have three areas of focus: “bringing the best medtech from North America, Europe, and Israel to GCC and MENA,” investing in local GCC-grown companies, and co-investing with iGan Partners’ funds into Canadian companies.
Founded in 2011, iGan Partners focuses on AI and cloud-enhanced medical devices and digital health. iGan Partners aims to identify promising technologies at the early stage and help commercialize and scale them through capital, support, and access to its network of industry partners and sector-specific co-investors.
iGan Partners typically makes its initial investment at the seed or Series A stage, and stays with its portfolio companies through follow-on investments. The firm’s current portfolio includes eSight, Hyivy Health, Medchart, MolecuLight, and Think Research.
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Belhoul is the founder of Ithmar Capital, a GCC-based private equity firm, the founder of Amanat Holdings PJSC, one of the GCC’s largest integrated healthcare and education investment companies, and vice chairman of the Dubai Chambers.
iGan Arabia has already announced its first four investments. Notably, three are Canadian companies, with the fourth being a digital patient management solution, Okadoc, that is based in Dubai.
“We are investing in Canadian companies who have a strategic interest in the MENA region and vice versa, who plan to scale their business from these key medtech hubs,” said Kelly.
The trio of Canadian firms, include: Markham’s Exact Imaging, which offers a micro-ultrasound for prostate cancer; Toronto-based eSight, which provides wearable electronic vision devices for legally blind people; and Toronto’s MolecuLight, which is building a handheld imaging device for advanced wound care. According to iGan Arabia, each of these companies has received regulatory approval and are scaling worldwide. In total, the fund aims to invest in 10 to 12 companies.
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“The UAE has proven to be an early adopter of innovation,” said H.E. Jean-Philippe Linteau, consul general of Canada in Dubai and the Northern Emirates. “This new partnership will help our healthcare technology companies grow and succeed globally.”
Ifergan said that through the fund, iGan hopes to help establish the UAE “as a leading healthcare innovation hub.”
Belhoul said iGan Arabia will focus on startups and healthcare companies in the GCC. “We will support not only their operations in the region but also help scale up their operations to key markets in North America, Europe, and [Latin America],” he said.
UPDATE (07/02/22): This story was updated to include responses from iGan Partners.
Image source Tara McCarville via LinkedIn.