Technology, Healthcare Author:Mengyao Zhang Editor:Luke Sheehan Mar 20, 2020 03:31 PM (GMT+8)

The capital market has been repricing deep learning-based solutions in healtchare after COVID-19.

X-ray showing Pneumonia Image Credit: CDC/Unsplash

Yitu Technology, a Chinese AI startup active in the medical field, has received a USD 30 million investment from Runcheng Pilot Fund, an industry fund initiated by CR Capital Management and China Chengtong Hong Kong. Yitu is accepting its first strategic bankroll amid the late stages of the epidemic in China, with its AI systems supporting active diagnostic work in Wuhan.

This funding injection corresponds to the current collective determination to fight against the new coronavirus. In the intensive outbreak period, Yitu Tech instantly deployed its AI diagnostic system to help identify cases of nCovid-19 in most Wuhan public hospitals. This system assists front-line doctors to quickly identify infected patients by fast quantitative analysis based on CT scan images.

“CT imaging is a critical step for pneumonia diagnosis for the new coronavirus. The application of artificial intelligence can help doctor make fast and accurate medical verdicts, ” says Mr. Chen Qiulin, head of the Social Security Research office at the Institute of Population and Labor Economics at China Academy of Social Sciences, “this technology can help doctor in foreign countries to control the spread more efficiently”.

Founded in 2012, Yitu Technology aims to become a world-class AI service provider based on its in-house research team. It leverages computer vision, natural language processing, speech recognition and chip engineering to provide comprehensive AI solutions for multiple business scenarios. As one of the leading startups in the AI business, it focuses on orienting AI technology towards various industries, including public safety, healthcare, finance and retail.

So far, this Shanghai-based high-tech firm has received several rounds of fundings, with a post-deal valuation of CNY 15 billion in 2018. The capital gained in the current round will facilitate its future deployment in the intelligent city sector, as well as deeper investment in intelligent healthcare and business systems.

Yitu wants to achieve more, to ensure it is not only remembered as a ‘one-hit wonder’ from the epidemic. In the background it is formulating an ‘AI Map of Cancer Screening’ through cooperating with hundreds of top medical institutions nationwide to help realize the national ‘Healthy China 2030’ plan. 
Challenges always go with opportunities. Market-based and technological competition are areas all AI enterprises need to consider in terms of long-term development. Its main competitors in the AI computer vision arena, SenseTime and Megvii, are on the pre-IPO list and actively involved in this transformative, high stakes game.

Just yesterday, on March 19, SenseTime registered a new company in Nanjing,  to reinforce its back-end data processing. SenseTime postponed its IPO plan and has moved towards the private equity market for other possible alternatives. Another AI-based facial recognition rival, Megvii, filed for a public listing last October to hit Hong Kong Stock Exchange but was waitlisted due to the outbreak.