Longevity investment and the happiness sweet spot

Joyance Partners puts longevity investment in the spotlight with a focus on diet, exercise and food-as-medicine.

Does improving our longevity make us happier? Does longevity make for investment returns?

Yes, says the $23 million (and growing) investment fund Joyance Partners, which has put longevity investment at the top of its agenda. And they should know. Since 2017, Joyance has been investing in companies that deliver “delightful moments derived from science.”
Typically a co-investor, Joyance is a US fund with operations in Europe and Asia, and targets pre-seed up to Series A funding rounds. The fund makes around 20 investments a year, ranging in size from $100,000 – $300,000.

Longevity.Technology: Is happiness a thing? You bet it is. It’s measurable and has never been more front-of-mind as we all stare out of our windows and remember happier pre-COVID times. With its focus on investing in companies that are aiming to make people happier and healthier, we were delighted to have the opportunity to catch up with one of Joyance Partners’ investment partners, Neha Tanna.

Joyance is part of a family of funds, and is the little sister (or brother) of Social Starts, a $60+ million fund focused on companies that leverage social and mobile technologies to drive health and happiness. When Social Starts’ fourth fund was launched, it focused on the science and technology of health and happiness, and Joyance essentially emerged from that.

“What is the next big revolution, where is the world going?” says Tanna, recalling the questions that led to the formation of the fund.

“The signals pointed to what we call health and happiness, anything that can enhance an individual’s sense of wellbeing.”

“Consumers are getting smarter, they’re wanting more for themselves, they want to be healthier, they want to be happier, they want to live longer, and they want to live longer in a healthier state. And that was across all generations, from Gen Z all the way through to baby boomers.”

At the same time, the fund’s founders also saw that science was starting to emerge from the universities and research institutions in a more commercially viable way.

“There was this whole movement of universities coming out and saying there’s no need for all this science to be behind closed doors,” says Tanna. “It can come to the forefront, and contribute to meeting the demand of people wanting better quality, technology and products. We just saw that movement.”

And so Joyance was born, with its longevity investment mission to invest in “delightful moments,” which Tanna describes as “anything we believe can enhance or enable moments of joy or break away from the humdrum of life, and contribute to enhancing an individual or community’s well being.”

For Joyance, what that breaks down into is a number of areas, ranging from chronic disease prevention, neurotech, consumer-focused technologies and platforms, mental health and mindfulness, and, of course, longevity.

“There is the hardcore life sciences element of longevity – the target molecules of cell senescence and all these things,” says Tanna. “But there’s also a whole community of biohackers, who are interested in good lifestyle and diet, but they want more, and are willing to experiment. So there’s a lot of people out there that will spend money on validating these products and technologies, and buy them and use them. And I think investors are getting on board with that.”

“And then there’s the average family who just want better quality food for their children, they want a good quality of life, they don’t want to be exhausted all the time, people want to thrive now, they don’t want to survive anymore.”

“I think all of this put together, along with the socio economic impacts of an aging population, is driving longevity.”

Behind the scenes, Joyance has a strong data science approach to its investing.
“We’ve got a group of data scientists in-house that have built a suite of software tools,” says Tanna, explaining that the data team has three key areas of focus. “First is macro and micro market trends, whether sector or geography, and trying to stay ahead of the curve.

The second is deal sourcing – we see over 10,000 companies come through our system every year, but we invest in less than 1% of those. The third factor is risk analysis – we’re using the tools to help assess the 300+ companies in our portfolio to pick up areas or signals of success, which contributes to our decision making of whether we follow on or not.”

Without being able to share specific details on upcoming longevity investments, Tanna says that they are planning one in the area of physical activity monitoring, while another is in flexible electronics for measuring multiple biomarkers.

“I’m looking for things that enhance what we already know about longevity,” she adds. “We know that diet and exercise already has a big impact on your longevity, so any technology or product that will enhance and improve those two areas, I think are very interesting. For example, there’s still a lot more that can be done in the food-as-medicine space.”