Health tech funding snapshot—Sony joins $42M round in endoscopy AI company; Wellframe raises $20M

concept of one hand holding up a light bulb and other hands holding up money
(Lia Shaked)

Health technology companies are using artificial intelligence in novel ways to improve care and support physicians.

A Japanese startup focused on using artificial intelligence to help with early detection of gastrointestinal cancers scored $42.9 million in series B funding backed by big-name investors.

Sony's corporate venture capital arm, Sony Innovation Fund by IGV (Innovation Growth Ventures), participated in the funding round along with Globis Capital Partners and World Innovation Lab, a US and Japan-based venture capital firm with a capital base from governments and leading global corporations including Nissan, Suzuki, NTT and 7-Eleven.

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AI Medical Service aims to improve endoscopic medical care through the use of AI. 

The company recently announced that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provided a breakthrough device designation for its machine learning algorithm that has the ability to analyze endoscopy images for potential diagnosis of gastric cancer. 

Endoscopic treatment is a medical field facing key hurdles including long hours required for analysis and a shortage of human resources, according to Masa Matsumoto, general partner of WiL. The endoscopy AI developed by AI Medical Service has huge potential to solve these problems and help endoscopists and patients globally, Matsumoto said.

Here's a snapshot of other health IT funding deals over $5 million in November:

  • Tabletop DNA sequencer: GenapSys nabbed $90 million in a series C funding round to commercialize its breakthrough electronic gene sequencer. The funding round was led by Foresite Capital to help bring GenapSys’ total funding to date up to $166 million, according to FierceBiotech. The company has begun taking orders in the U.S. and has priced the system at just under $10,000, with plans for global availability next year.
  • Migraine headache treatment: ShiraTronics, a medical device company creating a therapy for migraine headaches using neuromodulation, scored $33 million in its series A fundraising round. The financing was co-led by USVP, Amzak Health, and Strategic HealthCare Investment Partners. Aperature Ventures, Liva Nova PLC and an unnamed academic institution also participated.
  • Blood testing technology: San Diego-based healthcare company Truvian Sciences wants to disrupt the $80 billion blood-testing market. The company closed a $27.1 million series B financing round, led by GreatPoint Ventures and including DNS Capital and Tao Capital Partners along with existing investor Domain Associates. Truvian is developing a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-cleared automated benchtop system to produce lab results in 20 minutes for health tests using a small sample of blood.
  • Health navigation: Rightway Healthcare, a patient navigation platform for employers and their employees, scored $20 million in a series B funding round led by Thrive Capital. The financing will be used to expand Rightway's navigation platform and explore new opportunities to deliver its products across the healthcare sector.
  • Digital health management: Boston-based digital health management company Wellframe raised $20 million in a series C funding round led by Blue Cross Blue Shield Venture Partners, with additional strategic investments from several Wellframe clients. Existing investors Threshold Ventures and F-Prime Capital, which led the company’s prior $15 million series B round, also participated. The funding will support company growth, including hiring and a future office move.
  • Clinical trial recruitment: A startup that uses AI to help find patients for clinical trials landed $17 million in series A funding led by Point72 Ventures, with GSR Ventures and strategic partners participating. Deep 6 AI will use the investment to build its capacity to meet demand from healthcare providers, pharma companies and contract research organizations for its suite of AI-driven tools designed to accelerate and optimize clinical trials design, recruitment, and management, company executives said.
  • Social determinants software: Healthify is building out the infrastructure to integrate social determinants of health information. The company closed a $16 million series B financing round led by SV Health Investors and existing investors like BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners. The company will use the capital to fuel the company’s rapid growth as it continues to bring healthcare and social service organizations together in accountable networks.
  • Virtual nurse: Health benefits and insurance navigation chatbot Sensely secured $15 million in a funding round led by Aflac Corporate Ventures, the venture arm of Aflac. Additional new investors included NMC, Nippon Life Insurance Company, Susquehanna International Group, Sojitz Corporation, Zuellig Pharma and Silicon Valley Bank. Sensely uses avatars and chat-based platforms to help users understand and organize their insurance information. 
  • Kidney stone medical device: SonoMotion, a medical device startup, landed $10 million in a series B funding round led by Advanced MedTech Holdings along with existing investors MedVenture Partners and BioVentures Investors. SonoMotion developed an ultrasound solution that breaks up kidney stones non-invasively.
  • Digital solution for “pains in the neck”: Risalto Health scored $7 million in new funding from Health Catalyst Capital Management to further scale its musculoskeletal digital health platform. HCCM joins Oxeon Venture Studios as investors in Risalto. The company uses artificial intelligence to help users find musculoskeletal health providers and the company’s app acts as a digital concierge to help connect patients with appropriate care for their condition.
  • COPD therapy: Health technology company H-CYTE picked up raised $6 million in new funding led by a group that includes Todd Wagner, a co-founder of Broadcast.com and Rex Farrior and Preston Farrior, prominent philanthropists and University of Florida benefactors. The new funding will be used to accelerate the FDA approval process of the company’s next-generation cellular therapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

And … just under the threshold:

Rad AI launched with a $4 million seed round led by Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture fund. Investors UP2398, Precursor Ventures, GMO Venture Partners, Array Ventures, Hike Ventures, Fifty Years VC and various angels also participated in this round. Founder Dr. Jeff Chang started the company because he was troubled by high error rates, radiologist burnout, and rising imaging demand despite a worsening shortage of U.S. radiologists. Rad AI uses state-of-the-art machine learning to automate repetitive tasks for radiologists.

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