Last week, an unusual partnership in the health care M&A space hit the headlines. Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS), the global pharmaceutical company, bought Amblyotech, Inc., a software startup that, in collaboration with Ubisoft (OTCMKTS: UBSFF) and McGill University, is developing digital technology for the treatment of amblyopia (lazy eye), a leading cause of vision loss. Ubisoft is a major player in the video game industry and not a company we expected to be treading in the health care market. It owns several development studios worldwide and publishes multiple major video game franchises.
Amblyotech uses active gaming and passive video technology with 3-D glasses, training the eyes to work together to view an image in full. Novartis plans to work with Ubisoft to develop the Amblyotech software-as-a-medical device (SaMD), create a series of engaging games for the device, and conduct a proof of concept study, planned for later in 2020.
According to our Deal Search Online database, this is Novartis’ first step into the eHealth marketplace. The company’s most recent deal was announced back in November 2019 for its purchase of The Medicines Company (NASDAQ: MDCO) for $9.7 billion. Before that, the company purchased Xiidra, an eye treatment drug, from Takeda Pharmaceutical Company (NYSE: TAK) in May 2019.
This isn’t the first time video game software was found at the center of a healthcare deal. Back in November 2018, MindMaze, which develops virtual reality programs (VR) products to stimulate neural recovery, acquired Neuro Motor Innovations Corporation. Neuro Motor is a medical technology company that developed a proprietary medical gaming platform, game therapy software and hardware control devices to treat neurological diseases and injuries both acute and chronic.
That deal expanded MindMaze’s cognitive therapy for neurological diseases and injuries platform, combining its VR platform and Neuro Motor’s hardware control devices and software. Both services will create more robust neurological therapies. No terms were disclosed for the deal.