July: Tech Scouting Highlights

The latest insights from Micki Cabral and the SU Tech Scouting team

For Work or Play, AI is Here to Stay

Anywhere you go today, you’ll likely hear someone talking about artificial intelligence (AI). It is often thought of as the technology of “the future” or referred to as something that’s “coming,” but don’t be fooled: AI is here now and virtually everyone is using some form of it, whether they’re conscious of it or not.

For example, if you’re sending friends a photo in Snapchat using the puppy filter, purchasing something from your “Recommended for You” list on Amazon, or using Google photos to recognize your friends’ faces within pictures, you’re using AI. These applications leverage machine learning, deep learning, computer vision, and/or some other form of AI.

AI has already become indispensable in many aspects of our personal lives, but there are plenty of examples of AI in our everyday business and professional lives, too. The technology is rapidly evolving, and soon it will invade every aspect of our lives and dramatically change every industry. Organizations around the world are actively researching the space to determine how they can incorporate AI into their business processes and product offerings.

The SU Tech Scouting team, for instance, has worked with biopharmaceutical companies on a number of projects focused on precision medicine and clinical decision support. These projects uncovered some very interesting startups in the space that are using AI and machine learning to improve patient care and outcomes. Below we highlight a few of our favorites:

Droice Labs: Predicting adverse reactions

Droice Labs uses AI to predict the possibility of a patient having an adverse reaction to a particular course of treatment or drug. The technology is currently deployed to help hospitals and other healthcare institutions reduce expenditures and mortality rates (adverse reactions to treatment is the 4th largest cause of death in the US).

According to the company, its platform will predict not only if a patient will have an adverse reaction, but when. For example, Droice will be able to predict whether or not a patient’s vitals will crash in the next 24 hours under any type of intervention.

The platform relies heavily on electronic medical records (EMR) data and, as of December 2016, the company had access to over 10.5 million EMR platforms and achieved a reported 98% success rate with hospital partners.

Startup details

Location: New York, NY

Stage: Seed

Total funding: Undisclosed

Most recent funding date: January 2017

Most recent funding amount: Undisclosed

Founder & CEO: Mayur Saxena

URL: droicelabs.com

Zebra Medical Vision: A radiologist at your fingertips

Zebra Medical Vision combines next-generation imaging technology and machine learning to help radiologists more accurately detect and diagnose medical conditions. The platform has already yielded insights, validated by analyzing hundreds of thousands of case studies using both deep and machine learning algorithms, in bone health, cardiovascular analysis, and liver and lung indications.

In 2016, Zebra partnered with Dell Services, a provider of cloud-based imaging storage solutions to more than 1,100 providers, to bring its products to market.

What is arguably most interesting about Zebra Medical Vision is the company’s Profound service, launched in November 2016. Profound enables patients to upload their own image scans (CTs, mammograms, etc.) onto the platform and receive automated analysis.

Elad Benjamin, CEO of Zebra says, “Undergoing an image scan such as a CT or mammogram is stressful for many people, often compounded by a long wait for results, with additional follow-up tests and examinations. Profound can help alleviate some of the anxiety involved by providing a second opinion for certain scans, or discovering key findings which were overlooked by others.”

Startup details

Location: Shefayim, Israel

Stage: Series A

Total funding: $20M

Most recent funding date: May 2016

Most recent funding amount: $12M

Co-founder & CEO: Elad Benjamin

URL: zebra-med.com

iCarbonX: Creating a digital you

iCarbonX wants to create a “digital you” containing biological samples such as saliva, proteins, and DNA, and subject it to various environmental measurements, lifestyle factors, and medications.

AI will then analyze the data with the ultimate goal of providing customized health and medical advice directly to the patient or the user.

In January 2017, the company announced the Digital Life Alliance, a consortium of technology and application companies working to merge biological and patient-generated data with AI to instantly detect meaningful signals about health, disease, and aging, and deliver a personalized guide for living a healthy life.

To date, seven companies have joined the Alliance: SomaLogic, HealthTell, PatientsLikeMe, AOBiome, GALT, Imagu, and Robustnique. Commenting on this Alliance, iCarbonX Founder Jun Wang says, “The ecosystem we’re creating will connect biology, experience, and AI so that we can learn how disease manifests in the body over time, and how our everyday actions contribute to their progression.”

“I’m trying to build a crystal ball. By analyzing all the data that we can get our hands on, we will be able to see more clearly to predict what might happen to the body in the future.”

- Jun Wang, Founder, iCarbonX

Startup Details

Location: Shenzhen, China

Stage: Series A

Total funding: $200M

Most recent funding date: July 2016

Most recent funding amount: $45M

Founder & CEO: Jun Wang

URL: icarbonx.com

Advances in technology have catapulted us into a world where things no longer change linearly, but exponentially. With AI, there seems to be some new breakthrough happening every week (see: “AI can detect heart arrhythmias better than an expert” and “Google’s DeepMind teaches AI computer agents to traverse alien environments”). Such rapid advances make it hard to fully grasp what’s going on, making the technology and its potential both exciting and scary.

Will robots one day replace humans? Will they be smarter than humans? Will AI take over the world? While the technology is here and most of us are using some form of it every day, the space is still very much unexplored and no one really knows how it will evolve.

These questions and their accompanying concerns are valid (and will one day be answered), but it’s important not to get too caught up in them or any potential doomsday outcomes. AI in all of its forms—machine learning, deep learning, computer vision, etc.—has incredible potential to improve our lives. In healthcare alone, AI is already improving diagnosis and care. Imagine what it can do for your industry, whatever it is.

Sources: WIRED, Inc.com, Forbes, and Business Insider