Insights

Ten artificial intelligence companies to watch in the digital health sector

What is AI and how can it facilitate progress in finding and executing healthcare solutions? Find out exactly that and ClearlySo's shortlist of impactful businesses helping move the needle.

By Carl Bergholtz, Healthcare & Wellbeing Sector Lead · January 13, 2021

Recently it was widely reported that one of the biggest mysteries of biology had been to a large extent solved, the question of how a protein folds into a unique three-dimensional shape. Predicting how a protein folds is something that scientists have been thinking about for over half a century. How was this conundrum solved you may be asking yourselves; it was solved by using artificial intelligence (AI) tools developed by the London based (and Google owned) company DeepMind. It is an important milestone because being able to understand protein shapes in a more accurate way has wide ranging applications in the development of new drugs to treat a range of diseases.

The ability to accurately predict protein shapes is only one of a wide range of areas in which the use of AI can have profound effects within healthcare. Other areas include medical imaging and radiology, efficient patient triaging (deciding when and where patients get treated), mental health diagnostics and therapeutics, drug development, early warning systems to rapidly detect physical and emotional changes amongst patients, etc. The list can be made very long.

So, what exactly is AI? It is a term that is thrown around quite a lot these days. I am not going to attempt to give a deep and technical explanation of what AI is but essentially it is a combination of algorithms and software that have been developed to mimic human thinking in the analysis and understanding of large and complicated sets of data. AI algorithms need to be trained using large sets of input data. For example, an AI-focused radiology start-up needs to spend significant time feeding in imaging data to the product so that over time the algorithms become proficient at understanding what it is they are looking at and that they are then also able to provide actionable outputs related to their conclusions. The radiology example is a simplified one, of course, there are several other inputs that are needed in the development of AI solutions, not least the deep knowledge of the medical conditions that they are intended to be used for. Healthcare systems and research and development across the healthcare value chain produce significant amounts of data, data that in the past has to a large extent gone to waste. Nimble AI start-ups can put these vast quantities of data to good use by using the data to develop healthcare solutions that can have transformative effects on healthcare provision.

As a result of the significant market opportunities that can present themselves by being able to solve complex problems in healthcare or by being able to make processes more efficient by using AI, investors have been looking into the sector with a lot of interest. As a result of the investor interest and the founding of innovative businesses, several AI focused companies have raised large amounts of funding over the past couple of years. Examples include BenevolentAI (£255m) and Exscientia (£86m) from the UK, and Sophia Genetics from Switzerland (£188m).

It is, however, not just the big-name start-ups that have been attracting investor interest. There are several smaller companies making their mark on the healthcare ecosystem by developing innovative AI solutions. A selection of these companies can be seen below, and they are poised to revolutionise their target markets within healthcare in their own ways.

Companies to watch[1]

 

Headquarters: Oxford, UK                                        Founded: 2010

Brainomix is a developer of imaging software designed to support clinical decision making for neurological and cerebrovascular diseases. The company’s software uses artificial intelligence (AI) to provide a rapid and standardised assessment of stroke patients’ CT scans, supporting the fast and consistent treatment decisions of medical professionals, irrespective of their experience or expertise, enabling medical professionals to make informed treatment decisions, as early as possible and optimising patient outcomes.

Headquarters: London, UK                                        Founded: 2017

Feebris has developed an AI platform intended for precision detection of complex respiratory conditions. The company’s platform connects to a wide range of point-of-care devices and uses signal processing algorithms to extract important clinical insights and machine learning algorithms to fuse information into actionable diagnostic outputs, enabling non-doctor users, outside the clinic to detect respiratory issues early and avoid complications and hospitalisations.

Headquarters: London, UK                                        Founded: 2010

Health Navigator is a healthcare company that delivers AI guided case-finding, remote monitoring, clinical coaching and virtual ward solutions to the NHS. Since the company’s UK launch in 2015, they have developed into an NHS partner. The company provides practical applications of population health management, going beyond just identifying high-cost, high-need patients and intervening to support them to improve their health outcomes and reduce their care consumption.

Headquarters: Cambridge, UK                                  Founded: 2014

Healx is a developer of a drug discovery platform intended to accelerate the discovery of new treatments for rare diseases. The company’s platform uses artificial intelligence to leverage the combination of algorithms to predict and de-risk novel connections in biomedical data and move the promising ones towards the clinic, enabling clinics to develop advanced treatment methods.

Headquarters: London, UK                                        Founded: 2017

Lifebit has developed of a genomics and bioinformatics platform. The company’s platform offers reproducible and easy-to-share genomics analysis, provides integration with free open-source analysis alongside a marketplace of proprietary alternatives, and gives access to visualisation of large data sets associated with human genome sequencing, enabling researchers to run complex analyses and generate meaningful insights and secure research over distributed big data.

Headquarters: Amsterdam, The Netherlands       Founded: 2016

Neurocast is the developer of a passive patient monitoring platform intended to better understand the course and cause of chronic disorders in clinical trials. The company’s technology utilises data science and machine learning algorithms to detect chronic neurological diseases from a user’s typing behaviour and sensor data on smartphones, enabling researchers to better diagnose neurological diseases and help pharmaceutical companies to run clinical trials more efficiently.

Headquarters: London, UK                         Founded: 2018

Panakeia has developed an AI-enabled rapid diagnostics platform intended to reduce the cost, number of tests and time taken to establish a cancer diagnosis. The company’s platform visually analyses biopsy tissue samples that save over 90% of the direct diagnostic cost per patient, enabling patients to have a faster diagnosis.

Headquarters: Valencia, Spain                   Founded: 2012

Quibim is the developer of an AI-based image processing technologies intended to enable the development of imaging biomarkers in the medical imaging field. The company applies artificial intelligence and advanced computational models to radiological images to measure changes produced by a lesion or by a pharmacological treatment, thereby enabling hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and R&D centres to detect the changes produced by diseases and drugs in the body and improve human health.

Headquarters: Madrid, Spain                     Founded: 2014

Savana has developed a healthcare technology created to improve the quality of health record management by using artificial intelligence. The company’s platform applies natural language processing and deep learning techniques to analyse the unstructured free text information written in millions of electronic health records and automatically extracts valuable medical information, thus enabling medical professionals to improve clinical research and precision medicine by unlocking all of the clinical value in electronic records.

Headquarters: London, UK                         Founded: 2018

Vinehealth has developed a platform that aims to improve cancer outcomes. Evidence has shown that better symptom and medication management can increase survival rates in cancer patients by 20%. The company’s app allows cancer patients or carers to track symptoms, side effects and medications. It combines this information with lifestyle data to improve overall outcomes and encourage healthier lifestyles.

 

[1] Company information and data provided by PitchBook Data, Inc and company websites