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Google start-ups use AI to diagnose diseases and protect your data

by Peter Smyth Tech Journalist
3rd Jun 19 7:25 am

UK healthtech start-up Feebris has announced a successful seed investment raise of £1.1 million.

Founded by Elina Naydenova and Adam Bacon in 2017, and supported by healthtech accelerator HS., Google for Startups, Social Tech Trust, and White & Case, the company has just raised £1.1m in seed funding, led by 24 Haymarket and including a grant from Innovate UK.

Feebris is an AI company developing world-class machine learning algorithms for precision detection of complex respiratory conditions in the field. Their software platform pairs with existing medical sensors and can be used intuitively by those with little or no medical training, even outside a clinic environment, to detect respiratory issues. During a study in Mumbai in 2017, the team demonstrated with 1,300 children that their software could be used by community health workers to diagnose pneumonia with accuracy comparable to a hospital diagnosis via blood test and x-ray.

CEO Dr. Elina Naydenova holds a PhD in Machine Learning for Healthcare Innovation from Oxford University and created the concept for Feebris whilst interning at the World Health Organisation in 2014.

She said, “I was shocked that despite being a treatable condition, pneumonia kills one million children under-five every year, more than HIV, malaria, and TB combined. When I realised these deaths can be avoided through early diagnosis, I became obsessed with finding a way to solve the problem.”

Motivated by this, Elina has been working on this technology ever since and was also awarded $100,000 dollars in 2018 by the Children’s Prize Foundation, to scale the work in India.

“By putting our technology into the hands of frontline nurses and care workers, we will power the future of remote precision diagnosis, enabling patients to receive care before they are seriously ill, which means that clinicians are able to focus on patients rather than data. We aim to become a world-leader in the development of CE certified AI for respiratory disease diagnosis and monitoring.

This investment will support Feebris’ AI-enabled platform to continue bridging the gap between the community and providers across a range of respiratory conditions including pneumonia, COPD and asthma.”

Commenting on the investment, Paul Tselentis, CEO of 24Haymarket said, “Feebris’s cutting-edge AI-platform has the potential to solve one of the most pressing problems in our healthcare systems and provide immense value to patients and physicians alike. This is an exciting time for Feebris; and 24Haymarket are pleased to be supporting them as they build on their early engagement with healthcare providers.”

In health systems that are often overburdened, under-resourced and not designed for the modern challenges they face, it can be extremely challenging to meet the needs of an entire population. Currently 24% of all emergency admissions in the UK could be avoided with more effective community care and case management and 58% of these are from respiratory conditions alone. Delayed diagnosis can have life-threatening and life-changing consequences, which also place an overwhelming burden on health systems globally – respiratory conditions and their associated complications alone are estimated to cost the UK up to £165bn.

Feebris was selected to be part of Google for Startups 2019 Residency cohort, which will spotlight startups using machine learning technology to make a positive social impact. Google for Startups Residency brings growth-stage startups the best of Google’s products, connections, and best practices. Each startup receives tailored mentorship and workspace at the Google for Startups London Campus.

Marta Krupinska, Head of Google for Start-ups UK said, “Feebris is an excellent example of a values-led company that uses technology to solve important social problems, and we’re thrilled that this is recognised by the ecosystem and the investors. We’re really excited to work with Feebris and support them on this next step in their journey”

Feebris supporters also reacted to the investment:

Dr James Somauroo Founding Partner of healthtech accelerator HS said, “Feebris is a great example of how deep technology has been applied to a problem in healthcare by a very talented founding team with an innovative business model and we’re immensely proud to have been a part of their journey so far. This investment will enable the team to make an impact on a global scale and be a part of fundamentally changing the way that healthcare is delivered around the world, for the better.”

Ed Evans, CEO of Social Tech Trust said, “We’re thrilled to see Feebris secure seed stage investment to support their growth.  Feebris share our vision for transforming the healthcare system and we see huge potential in their innovative approach.  Driven by passionate founders, I’m confident that Feebris will go on to create incredible social impact.”

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