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Sep 16, 2019 09:10 pm ·

Linking Med Gets Class III, Paving the way for Monetization for the Rest

In August this year the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) issued a Class III type license to Linking Med (连心医疗), a Beijing-based medical-cloud company that focuses on the processing of oncological medical images. The licensing will facilitate the company’s commercialization of its cloud solution. The first-of-its-kind license is of enormous importance, since it brings the possibility for the other AI-and cloud-driven medical companies to monetize their products.   The company’s cloud solution, which was licensed by the NMPA, has already landed in more than 50 hospitals, serving over 2,000 people per week; since the license was obtained, the cloud-provider has been negotiating the price with hundreds of hospitals, according to VCbeat, a Chinese media organization. NMPA, the regulatory department responsible for the permission and licensing of Class III-type products, took over the duty from the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) in 2018, after a major regulatory update by China’s State Council in 2018 that merged the CFDA and several other departments into the NMPA. From 2018 onwards, NMPA has been the official entity that directly reports to the State Council. The medical cloud provider has been generating its revenue from third-party services to the hospital’s radiotherapy departments in China. Since the country has structural problems in cancer treatment that are due to excess demand on very scarce resources, medical cloud and remote consultation have been showing potential as one of the best integrated solutions to the problem, which is Linking Med’s focus. (Check out this in-depth article on China’s structural problems in healthcare). Linear Capital (线性资本) backed health-tech company’s licensing success is good news for the rest of the industry, especially for those who have a medical cloud system that is supported by machine learning and AI. Founded in early 2016, VoxelCloud (体素科技) is one of those companies who provide intelligent cloud systems. Yet another example is 12Sigma (图玛深维), a Jiangsu-based Medical AI developer known for its lung and breast cancer-related MI diagnosis product. Several industry experts have argued that ‘Chinese regulators will not provide a Class III-type of license to any AI-driven medical product in the short-term,’ yet this licensing event shows that the regulators in China are not as ‘conservative’ as some expected. Indeed, it may be just be a beginning for the entire IT and big data-driven healthcare services scene in China. “2019 may be a heaven for monetization in China’s medical AI scene,” once said the CEO of deepwise to EqualOcean. Perhaps he is right in his optimism. 

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Jun 17, 2019 11:20 pm ·

Tencent Miying Debuts New AI Medical Image Reading Tech

On June 16th, Tencent Miying (腾讯觅影), the medical image reading platform of Tencent, and Wang Ningli (王宁利) research team from Tongren Hospital (同仁医院) debuted their latest technology in early-stage glaucoma screening on the 13th conference held by China Medical Doctor Association and eye doctor chapter in Zhengzhou. Dr. Wang Ningli asserted that early-stage glaucoma screening is the best approach to prevent vision loss caused by glaucoma. The new technology employs AI tech to screen and detect early-stage glaucoma and the accuracy is claimed to exceed 95%. Diagnosis glaucoma at an early stage can help doctors to intervene in the progress of vision loss. The AI screening technology could shed some lights to China’s eye disease diagnosis, prevention, and so the treatment. The tension caused by the shortage of China’s medical resources and unbalanced allocation can be soothed by the new AI medical image reading technology. The top three vision loss reasons are cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. However, at the current stage, eye-disease-related AI medical image reading technology mainly focuses on diabetic retina exam and glaucoma screening. Compared with curable cataracts, which can be cured by cataract surgery, glaucoma-caused vision impairment is inevitable. Hence, early-stage diagnosis of glaucoma and prevention are critical for potential glaucoma patients. Yet the glaucoma AI screening technology has not been widely applied, the diabetic retina exam has been installed in some clinics and hospitals for trials and assisting doctors in diagnosis. As the same as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy impairs vision, which is also an inevitable process. Vision impairment caused by the two is a chronical process and it is often too late to be treated when patients discover that they have lost vision. The AI medical image reading aims at the efficiency and accuracy of medical image reading, and ultimately improves the accessibility of healthcare services from region to region in China. For medical image reading AI companies, most matured image-reading technology at the stage is pulmonary diseases, then liver and eye diseases. 12Sigma, Infervision, Airdoc, Deepwise, etc. all have image reading solutions in above-mentioned fields. Tencent Miying is a function of Tencent’s AI development department. Tencent is officially appointed as one of the National Open Innovation Platform for Next Generation Artificial Intelligence on computer vision for medical AI by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology. China has four more open innovation platforms designated for different fields: Baidu focused on autonomous driving; iFlyTek is assigned to voice intelligence field; Alibaba is tasked with “city brains”; SenseTime is the open innovation platform for computer vision

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Apr 16, 2019 02:52 pm ·

12Sigma Sweeps MI Diagnosis Competition

12 Sigma won a tumour diagnosis competition, LiTS - Liver Tumor Segmentation Challenge, outscoring 1328 global MI Diagnosis and AI teams. Participants competed in developing automatic segmentation algorithms to segment liver lesions in contrast­-enhanced abdominal CT scans. For the competition, the data provided by various clinical sites around the world and the training data set contains 130 CT scans. The challenge is organised in conjunction with international biomedical imaging standards.  12 Sigma's AI enhanced liver CT (Computerized Tomography) automatically detects the 3D surface of the liver segmentation and quantifies liver forms. It helps doctors perform an automatic analysis and detection of deep-inside tumours supporting the follow-up tracking of patients and improving the medical evidence base for patients. The system empowers doctors to make accurate and efficient clinical diagnoses and reduce workload. The system is applicable to radiology, clinical departments and imaging centres. 12 Sigma's intelligent diagnosis solutions focus on real clinical needs; covering the whole process of disease-monitoring, quantitative analysis, disease classification, benign and malignant judgment, follow-up and medical report generation. It can halve the process for radiologists and clinicians.  The company's products focus on the high incidence areas of Chinese patients such as tumours and cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. They can automatically segment organs from CT, MRI, X-ray, PET/CT and ultrasound images, automatically mark the tissue structure of suspected lesions, measure their location, size, shape and other quantitative information, and can also be used to segment organs from medical images such as CT, MRI, X-ray, PET/CT and ultrasound. The benign and malignant lesions were judged. Founded in 2015, 12 Sigma is a high-tech enterprise focusing on the research and development of the world's top intelligent medical imaging diagnosis systems. Presently, its products cover a relatively complete system of medical image-assisted diagnosis products. The company's products cover more than 200 hospitals, and the company has reached scientific research cooperation with more than 30 top hospitals in the mainland and overseas. The company's global layout has gradually deepened and has completed overseas distribution in the United States, Japan, Europe and other countries. It has also cooperated with local strategic partners and top research institutes.             

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Nov 26, 2018 05:17 pm ·

Chinese AI Healthcare Startup 12 Sigma is Seeking New Financing

BEIJING, Nov. 26, 2018 (EqualOcean) - 12 Sigma Technologies (12 Sigma, 图玛深维), a Chinese startup using artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning to analyze medical imaging, is in talks with several investors to seek new round financing, someone familiar with the company told EqualOcean. Medical imaging AI market is growing very fast in China and around the world, but 12 Sigma has been lagged behind by its competitors such as Infervision (推想科技), Yitu Healthcare (依图科技), at least in terms of fundraising. According to public information, 12 Sigma has secured four rounds of investment; the latest round came in December 2017, with CNY 200 million backed by investor including Softbank China Capital (SBCVC), ZhenFund, Matrix partners China and so on, added to its total financing of about USD 30 million. Infervision and Yitu Healthcare, two major players in the medical imaging field, backed by USD 75 million and USD 55 million investments respectively. ZHONG Xin (钟昕), co-founder and CEO of 12 Sigma, once said investors pay more attention to technologies’actual application and monetization when mining B round potential portfolios. 12 Sigma, told EqualOcean half month ago nearly 200 hospitals worldwide using its products as of October 2018. Its solutions at the moment consist of three areas: Deep Learning Diagnosis, Medical Data Analysis, and Cloud Cad, and the company plans to add 3-5 specific products every year.  Just like Infervision, 12 Sigma has been actively expanding into international markets, partly because it was difficult to generate revenue by authorizing products to Chinese hospitals, who want to have a try but with little willingness to pay. By contrast, hospitals in Japan, Europe, and the U.S. have the habit to pay professional services. 12 Sigma probably wants the new round investment to be strategic, internet giants such as Alibaba and Tencent, and state-owned funds such as China's State-owned Capital Venture and CITIC Securities are good choices. But Alibaba has already poured money into startup Wanlicloud two and half years ago, and Tencent has a similar subsidiary called Miying (觅影) and invested VoxelCloud (体素科技).  No matter who will be the next investors of 12 Sigma, one thing is for sure, the competition of Chinese medical imaging AI market will turn white-hot next year. 

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Nov 23, 2018 09:50 pm ·

Chinese AI Startup Infervision is Expanding Overseas

Infervision (推想科技), a Beijing-based AI startup using deep learning to improve medical image analysis and help diagnose cancers, recently appointed former GE Healthcare scientist SHEN Yun (沈云) as the president of iCR-inferVISION Global Clinical Collaboration Research Institute. Since China elevated AI as a strategic development plan since 2017, more and more oversea-background scientists returned to China to join the emerging AI gold rush.  CHEN Kuan (陈宽), founder and CEO of Infervision, who himself was a P.H.D. candidate of the University of Chicago, dropped out of his doctoral program after he found the huge opportunities of integrating AI with healthcare industry in 2015. CHEN was right, since been founded in early 2016, his company Infervision has attracted four rounds of funding from various investors, including Sequoia Capital China, Qiming Venture Partners and so on.  Infervision has five products InferRead CT Lung, InferRead DR Chest, InferRead CT Stroke, InferRead CT Bone, and InferScholar Center. All solutions aim to help radiologists to reduce repetitive work and improve the accuracy of diagnosis. Infervision claimed two months ago that the company’s AI imaging technology has been accepted in 200 hospitals worldwide and assists with an estimated 20000 scans for lung cancer screening every day, which made Infervision the largest AI platform in the world (in terms of scan volume) for registered active medical professionals.  Infervision has been actively expanding into international markets in the past year, its Japan and America offices were founded in September 2017, and in March 2018 infervision Europe was launched. “In China, hospitals would like to try new technologies but have little willingness to pay; it’s relatively easier for Infervision to make money from Japan, America, and Europe”, someone familiar with the matter told EqualOcean. 12 SIGMA, a major competitor of Infervision, also takes the same development path. Now Infervision and 12 SIGMA, two Chinese AI medical imaging companies, are racing to rival the same international markets. And just like CHEN, the founder and CEO of 12 SIGMA ZHONG Xin (钟昕), a Carnegie Mellon University graduate who once worked at Qualcomm, discovered the AI tide, back to China and founded 12 SIGMA in 2015. ——Author: YuanPu; Write to YuanPu at YuanPu@EqualOcean.com