AI Medical Service, a Tokyo-based company developing AI-based software to help detect gastric cancer, announced today that it has raised a $42.9 million Series B. Investors include Globis Capital Partners, World Innovation Lab and Sony Innovation Fund by IGV. The funding will be used for clinical trials of its software, which looks for signs of cancer in real-time during endoscopies, product development and overseas expansion.
This brings AI Medical Service’s total funding so far to $57 million, including a previous round of $9 million from the Incubate Fund in August 2018. Founded in 2017, the company’s software focuses on signs of cancer in gastrointestinal organs, including the esophagus, stomach and intestines, with the goal of reducing the amount of hours doctors and other health professionals need to spend going over scans. AI Medical Service is currently collaborating with 80 medical institution on joint research for regulatory approval of its products.
Dr. Tomohiro Tada, CEO of AI Medical Service, told TechCrunch in an email that the world market for endoscopy is growing by 10% every year, with Japanese manufacturers holding about a 70% market share. For its expansion strategy, Tada says the company will initially focus on other Asian countries, including Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, where there are high rates of stomach cancer. Then it will focus on the U.S. and Canada.
Research shows that about 15% to 30% of lesions are missed during endoscopy procedures and the goal of AI Medical Service is to increase the accuracy of scan results. Its first product, which uses a deep-learning convolutional neural network (CNN) to analyze medical images, will apply for regulatory approval soon.
There are other companies, including ai4gi, Olympus and Shanghai Wision AI, that are also working on AI-based endoscopy technology, but Tada says AI Medical Service does not see them as competitors because it focuses specifically on AI detection of gastric cancer, whereas ai4gi and Wision AI are developing software for colonscopies.
In a prepared statement, Globis Capital Partners director Satoshi Fukushima said “We foresee an irreversible trend of doctors diagnosing cancer in collaboration with AI in the near future. Supported by the world’s leading medical institutions and specialists in the field and led by experienced management, the endoscopy AI developed by AIM has huge potential to help endoscopists and patients globally.”