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Aidoc gets FDA permission to detect COVID-19 in CT images



Aidoc uses AI alrogithms to detect abnormalities and flag patients for treatment

Much has been written about the lack of testing for COVID-19 across the country, as only a select few, mostly those who already think they’re sick, can get them. That leaves the rest of us, who might be asymptomatic, without the ability to find out if we have it. That means we could be spreading it to others without ever knowing, making it that much harder to ever get this virus behind us. 

Thankfully, there might be another way to find out who has the disease, one that is not as obvious as sticking a swab up your nose: by studying CT images.

That’s the idea from Aidoc, a company that uses deep learning algorithms to analyze medical imaging of the head, chest, spine and abdomen, allowing radiologists to better detect abnormalities. The company’s technology is able to flag life-threatening and time sensitive conditions, such as brain hemorrhages or pulmonary embolisms, and then prioritizes those patients so the radiologist knows to look at them first.

Now, the company has received permission from the the FDA to use its AI algorithms to detect findings associated with COVID-19 as well, it was announced on Friday.

To understand how it’s going to do that, it’s probably best to describe how Aidoc works in life-threatening diseases. The technology is “an AI safety layer that helps triage critical patients,” as Elad Walach, co-founder and CEO of Aidoc, describes it.

“Imagine you are an imaging center and have a patient coming in for his elective cancer follow-up. That patient could sometimes wait days for results, so if you have a patient coming in at 5pm on Friday, nobody would even open that exam until Monday morning. What happens if that patient has a critical finding, let’s say pulmonary embolism? Right now, he would go home with a potentially lethal condition,” he explained.

Aidoc runs in the background, searching for these critical findings. When it detects something, it then flags and highlights it, making sure that the radiologist finds that patient quickly so they can diagnose them and potentially save their life.

The use case for COVID is similar, Walach explained, though it’s not as time sensitive as something that can kill you instantly, like a potential brain hemorrhage. In this case, a patient would come in, get a scan, and Aidoc would look to detect what is known as ground-glass opacity (GGO), a type of finding in the lungs that is associated with COVID, as well as viral pneumonia. Once Aidoc detects this abnormality, it would flag that patient, pushing them to the top of the radiologist’s work list, so it can be determined if they have COVID-19 and if they need treatment. That could mean isolating that patient and also disinfecting the scanner that was used so that more patients are not infected. 

This type of solution will be especially effective for patients in the second wave of the virus who will not be showing outward signs of having it, Walach explained.

“COVID comes in waves. We now are almost at the end of the first wave, kind of half coming back, not yet but soon we will hopefully come back to semi-normalcy. Then, potentially, a second wave will hit. In that scenario, we’re going to have a lot of asymptomatic patients, so patients who don’t know they have COVID,” he told me. 

“There is more and more evidence about those asymptomatic patients nowadays and it’s definitely going to be more impactful in the second wave as we’re going to be seeing more of those patients.”

As Aidoc is trying to detect COVID in patients who don’t know they have it, it was important for the company to build a data set of subtle findings, he said, rather than the more obvious signs, as those people would likely already be showing symptoms. So far, the solution has been effective, with Aidoc putting the accuracy rate of detecting COVID through CT scans at around 92 percent, though Walach does expect that to change as the conditions around the virus change as well.

“We believe the numbers will change as the population changes, because you’re going to have more and more of those subtle patients, which now we don’t have,” he said.

Founded in 2016, Aidoc, which raised a $27 million Series B round last year, has gone from having one FDA clearance to four over the last 12 months; it now has clearances from the FDA to flag conditions that include intracranial hemorrhage, large-vessel occlusion, PE in pulmonary angiography and cervical spine fractures. The company has not yet received clearance to use its technology to detect COVID-19, but it has received permission. 

The company has also grown from being in 100 medical centers globally to 300, and Walach believes that most of them will use its technology for COVID detection. 

“We aren’t going to force anybody to join, but I think the vast majority are going to be utilizing this. We’re right now pushing this out to as many, I have a detected team just for this solution. The good thing is that once we’re deployed in a hospital it’s very, very easy to add another module, so it’s not we need a complicated installation, it’s basically the flip of a button,” he said.

Ultimately, though, he says that he’s just happy to be able to help healthcare workers in any way he can.

“The whole team and I, frankly when this all started we were tearing out our hair trying to find ways to help, because using imaging not obvious. I’m really thankful to our customers that helped us find a way where we can help,” Walach said.

“I think we can be a good supportive tool, a good safety net, we will help but it is the doctors, at the end of the day, who are taking the risk and who are on the front lines. We’re fortunate to be able to contribute in some hopefully meaningful way to this effort.”


Private Equity

Biotech continues strong PE, VC investment run in 2020



The biotech sector has continued its robust start to the year for private equity and venture capital dealmaking, despite


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Private Equity

More than 20 venture capital firms band together to provide founders with advice on coronavirus challenges



More than two dozen UK venture capital houses have banded together to provide free and confidential advice to startups looking for help on coping with challenges arising from the Covid-19 crisis.

Breega, Draper Esprit, Omers Ventures, MMC Ventures and Nauta Ventures are all among the slew of firms joining the scheme, which is based on a model set up by Breega’s Paris office at the beginning of last month.

The VC Hours scheme consists of one-to-one consultations that can be booked online, taking place either via video or over the phone, and are open to any startup founder wishing to discuss their business challenges with a VC.

Areas of advice will include helping founders adapt their business models, raising and pitching during the crisis, controlling cash flow and HR issues.

Breega founding partner Ben Marrel said, “In these difficult times, it is vital, more now than ever, that the different actors of our ecosystem come together to support each other, so as to limit, as much as possible, the devastating impact of the economic crisis.

“Startups are fragile because they’re young and yet they’re also indispensable as they are the ones shaping our future world and economy.”

Connect Ventures partner Rory Stirling added, “This is no doubt a lonely and difficult time for many startup founders.

“Whilst some founders have been able to turn to their existing investors for support, those that are yet to raise, find themselves with few places to turn for advice.

“That is one of the reasons we chose to get behind this initiative and our objective is to ensure that all the startups that need help during the Covid-19 crisis can find it.”

The full list of firms taking part in the VC Hours scheme are:

  • AlbionVC
  • Ananda Impact Ventures
  • Anthemis, Augmentum
  • BrightEye
  • Breega
  • C4 Ventures
  • Connect Ventures
  • DN capital
  • Draper Esprit
  • Eka
  • Episode 1
  • Felix
  • Gauss Ventures
  • 24Haymarket
  • KEEN Venture Partners
  • Kindred
  • Local Globe
  • MMC
  • Nauta
  • Notion
  • Omers
  • Outrun
  • Piton Capital
  • PROfounders
  • Samaipata
  • SOSV
  • SpeedInvest
  • Sweet Capital
  • 7percent Ventures

Copyright © 2020 AltAssets


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Funding from the crowd, VCs, or Angels



CB-Insights funding

Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer – No.3 influencer in the finance sector by Refinitiv Global Social Media 2019.

Funding is on everybody`s mind, especially for early-stage companies with no significant customer base. Will this time be different than in other market downturns?

Crowdfunding limits in the US are increased

The SEC increased the amount that companies can raise through crowdfunding. SEC is has proposing to increase the limit from $1million to $5million for accredited investors and to revise the calculation of investment limits for non-accredited investors (allowing them to allocate a greater percentage of their net worth). Of course, it will take time to be able to tell the impact. When will the appetite kick in at the current lower valuations.

Rosenblatt Securities research from last Fall, shows the expected impact on Fintech valuations at various stages affecting heavily the unicorns. For earlier stage startups the average expected impact is expected to be around 20% (1/3 of the unicorn impact).

Screen Shot 2020-05-18 at 10.47.22

B2B Fintech offerings, mostly Saas, are the ones that are getting traction from the new Fintech funds are raised now. Over 50% of investors claimed (before the crisis) that they would be opportunistic in their approach especially in sectors whose valuations were overblown.

New funds looking for great Fintech deals

New VC funds with an exclusive or partial Fintech focus are being raised as we speak but shyly of course.

FIS one of the leading financial vendor providers, is salivating on the opportunities that can be found in these market conditions and launched in late April a new $150million fintech fund. They already made their first investment in Flutterwave, the Nigerian payments fintech who raised $35mil Series B. FIS was familiar with Flutterwave as they had a business partnership established in January.

What is noteworthy is the interest in Nigeria and Africa in general. The SEC has also allowed Nigerian enterprises of all sizes that are more than 2yrs old to access the US crowdfunding portals.

FINTOP Capital closed its second Fintech FINTOP Fund II which was oversubscribed and raised $126 million. The first fund was raised in 2016 ($50million) and brags for two exits: DealCloud sold to Intapp in 2018 (both in the institutional Saas sector of capital markets), and Solovis (a cloud-based multi-asset class portfolio management, analytics and reporting technology platform, for institutional investors) which was sold to Nasdaq this March of this year. This second fund already has holdings in Trovata (automating cash mgt), Vouchr (mobile UX in payments), myDigitalOffice (digital back office hospitality solutions), FinMkt (consumer financing), Decusoft (Saas compensation mgt).

RTP Global announced a fund to invest into early-stage technology companies in FinTech and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). The new fund is $650 million. Its previous fund was $200million (raised in 2017). See more here.

Angels slowdown and startup job marketplaces are one-sided

AngelList a platform that has innovated in the angel investing space through its syndicates and recently announced layoffs without sharing specific details.

It is already 10yrs old and has roughly $1.8 billion assets under management and several funds. Five years ago it also launched a job business with an app. Right now it lists over 130k tech jobs for 100k companies. Fintechs like Stripe and Affirm have been part of the AngelList job talent ecosystem. Of course, now it will be a one-sided market similar to the challenges faced in the lending market, where demand for loans far exceeds supply.

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