Japanese AI-powered cancer detection startup raises $43M in series B round



See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based AI Medical Service, the Japanese startup developing the AI-powered technology to detect cancerous lesions from endoscopic footage, announced on Friday that it has secured about 4.6 billion yen (about $43 million US) in a series B round.

Participating investors in this round are:

  • Globis Capital Partners(GCP)
  • WiL
  • Sparx Group
  • Sony Innovation Fund by IGV(Managed by Innovation Growth Ventures, the joint venture of Sony and Daiwa Capital Holdings)
  • Japan Lifeline (cardiovascular medical device manufacturer, TSE:7575)
  • Japan Post Capital
  • Aflac Ventures
  • Ryoyo Electro (semiconductor trader, TSE:8068)
  • SMBC Venture Capital
  • Daiwa Corporate Investment
  • An unnamed angel investor

For the company, this follows their previous funding (series A round) worth 1 billion yen back in August of last year and brought their funding sum up to 6.2 billion yen (about $58 million US).

Established by physician Dr.TOmohiro Tada, AI Medical Service has been developing an AI-powered diagnostic system for cancer detection. A survey says only 31% even among medical doctors can correctly determine the presence or absence of gastric cancer symptoms from endoscopic footage. With help from more than a few medical doctors, the company can improve the AI engine because of using hundreds of thousands of high-definition endoscopic images to let it learn better. The engine now can detect with high accuracy the presence of Helicobacter Pylori bacteria, which is known to be the major cause of stomach cancer.

In 2017, the company won the top award at Beyond Next Ventures’ Brave accelerator program in the pre-incorporated startup segment. They also won the Best Growth and Judge awards at Incubate Camp 10th back in August of 2017, followed by winning the TechCrunch Japan award at the 10th Batch Demo Day of Recruit’s Tech Lab Paak accelerator.

The company uses the funds to promote clinical trials, expand the pipeline, hire talents, make more investments, aiming to accelerate the development of real-time endoscope AI and to get an approval of medical regulatory for it.