Patrick Soon-Shiong‘s NantWorks announced their first acquisition of 2012 on Tuesday buying Boston Life Labs and moving its operations across the country from Boston to Phoenix. NantCare, as the company is renamed, provides software and hardware products to enable wireless monitoring of patients’ blood pressure, blood sugar, weight, medication management and other indicators.
From a strategic perspective this deal makes a lot of sense for Dr. Soon-Shiong and the immediate future of his bold efforts to create a “Silicon Beach” in Los Angeles, practically all by himself. Fresh on the heels of the Qualcomm 2Net device announcement at the mHealth Summit in early December of last year, Soon-Shiong clearly felt pressed to make a move to establish his presence and capability to compete with a powerful communications infrastructure company like Qualcomm. Soon-Shiong is also wise to be relocating most of the companies he has acquired to his new Phoenix-based command center.
As part of their relocation to Phoenix the company is building a ‘Patient Intelligent Monitoring Center’ to facilitate improved communications between patient and caregiver, improved medication compliance, and control over unnecessary health care costs.
“Wireless monitoring of patients is absolutely key to the future of healthcare,” Soon-Shiong said in a press release. “Chronic illness has become epidemic, and that is the biggest problem facing our healthcare system, both in terms of health outcomes and costs. NantCare’s technology enables healthcare providers to monitor patients with chronic conditions, in their homes or wherever they may be. Providers can intervene as necessary, before patients become seriously ill. They can keep their patients healthy and greatly reduce the number of hospital admissions.”
NantCare CEO Richard Binier said, “NantWorks is the ideal ecosystem for us. Dr Soon-Shiong’s vision of a comprehensive digital infrastructure, enabling actionable personalized medicine, covers the whole continuum of healthcare from genomic sequencing and high performance computer analysis all the way to the point of care. We are there at the point of care, with the technology to link the patient and provider in real time to the full power of that infrastructure. That is the shape of 21st century medicine and we are proud to be a part of it.”
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton also welcomed the news, commenting, “Here in Phoenix we welcome Boston Life Labs, because with its new investment from NantWorks, it will grow here and become a part of Phoenix’s renewed economic success and innovation. Most importantly, Boston Life Labs will contribute to our city’s growing medical community and to the better care of Phoenix residents.”
It will be interesting to see what Soon-Shiong’s long-term business model is for his NantWorks project, but as long as he continues to fund everything out of his existing fortune he would be wise to start focusing on acquiring more companies like Boston Life Lab if for no other reason than because it will give him marketable products and establish steady cash flow. Most of the companies the good doctor has bet on big to date in the digital realm are earlier stage, long-term R&D projects, while BLL has established a mature ecosystem of sensor partners and platform clients.
In a separate bit of news, released very quietly in mid-January, NantWorks announced it would invest $85.5 million in the development of a new R&D facility in Terre Haute, IN. The development site was formerly the home of a Pfizer facility and sits on 210 acres. The new facility is expected to be completed in 2015 and fully operational by 2016, creating 234 new jobs manufacturing critical care injectable and oncological drugs.
“With the strength of our life sciences industry and a first-class work force, it’s no surprise that innovative companies from high-tax, business-hostile states continue to choose Indiana as the home for new investment,” said Governor Mitch Daniels. “With its established executive leadership and groundbreaking pharmaceutical research, NantWorks has all the right ingredients to flourish in the Hoosier State.”
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered NantWorks up to $2 million in conditional tax credits and up to $100K in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans.