The Top 25: #7 Alex de Winter, GE Ventures

Alex de Winter is a managing director at GE Ventures, US-headquartered power and industrial equipment producer General Electric’s corporate venturing fund. He joined the unit in 2013 from an extensive background in startups, financial venture capital and corporate venturing.

As a part of the healthcare investment team, de Winter focuses on precision medicine, specifically clinical diagnostics, life sciences instrumentation and healthcare information technology. He has led investments in Labcyte, RainDance Technologies, Syapse, Veracyte and an undisclosed genomics startup.

From the many deals he has done, de Winter is especially optimistic about his 2016 investment in precision medicine technology provider Syapse, where he sits on the board. Syapse has developed a software platform and data-sharing network to help physicians provide precision medicine for cancer patients. He said: “The oncology data space is heating up, evidenced by Roche’s acquisition of FlatIron for $1.9bn and Tempus achieving unicorn status. Syapse is well-positioned to make a huge impact in this market, as its customers manage a million active cancer cases at nearly 300 hospitals.”

Although GE has a global reach in healthcare and franchises in imaging, there are areas of healthcare and precision medicine that are less familiar to the company. De Winter said that was where GE was in a position to gain from startups that could facilitate understanding in technology trends and allow exploration of new markets and collaboration opportunities.

De Winter said he enjoyed working with GE’s medical technology subsidiary GE Healthcare to find areas of strategic interest and connect promising startups to the conglomerate’s business units for potential collaboration.

For example, in 2014, precision medicine developer Assurex Health, which had developed a pharmacogenomic test to help physicians select the appropriate psychiatric medication for patients, was raising debt and equity. He introduced the company to GE’s finance subsidiary GE Capital, which led to a $25m credit facility with GE Capital as the lead. Assurex was later acquired by Myriad Genetics for $225m, in addition to $185m in performance-based milestones.

However, de Winter said ating as a liaison was not always a smooth sail as it could be difficult to persuade the head of a $100m business unit that a prerevenue startup could be impactful to GE. He said: “The mismatch of scale leads to a lot of introductions that unfortunately do not progress.”

De Winter has a PhD in chemistry from Stanford University, an MBA from University of California Berkeley and bachelor’s degrees in English and chemistry from Amherst College.

Sue Siegel, chief executive and chief innovation officer at GE Ventures, said: “His English degree helps him distil esoteric science into broadly accessible language and write our financial investment memos that contain the occasional mythological reference.”