When an oxygen tank exploded aboard the ill-fated Apollo 13 in 1970, a team of NASA engineers used cardboard, plastic bags and duct tape to rescue the astronauts on board.
Andreessen Horowitz general partner Vijay Pande, who invests out of the firm’s $750 million biotech fund, likens the Apollo 13 engineers to the entrepreneurs developing new technologies in response to Covid-19.
“It’s a triumph of engineering to find a way out,” Pande said. “Hopefully we can do it quickly so everyone can go back to normal. And as we rebuild the things that need to be rebuilt, we can ask ourselves: How can we avoid this in the future?”
The pandemic has sparked newfound interest in how technology can accelerate treatments and limit the spread of fatal diseases. Yet some venture capitalists have been investing at the intersection of health and technology for years. They’ve already made bets on companies like Cricket Health, which combines virtual and at-home care for kidney disease patients, and WeDoctor, a telemedicine company that’s planning a $10 billion Hong Kong initial public offering.