30th September 2022
EIT Health-supported start-up Optellum has secured $14M in Series A funding, led by Mercia with co-investment from Intuitive Ventures (independent VC arm of Intuitive, the global leader in robotic-assisted surgery), and Black Opal Ventures (New York, USA).
Optellum has developed a breakthrough AI platform designed to help physicians diagnose lung cancer at the earliest, hence curable stages. The Oxford-based company plans to use the funding to support commercial expansion, accelerate research and development; and expand its platform into personalized therapy decisions, integrating imaging with liquid biopsies, robotics and drug therapies.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in Europe, causing around 380,000 deaths, 20% of total cancer deaths. When diagnosed early, almost 90% of people with lung cancer will survive the disease for five years or more, compared with only 5% when the disease is diagnosed at the latest stage.
Optellum has developed the Virtual Nodule Clinic, an AI-powered decision support software for lung cancer diagnosis, which provides a clinically-validated Lung Cancer Prediction (LCP) score based on imaging AI or ”Radiomics”. The score gives clinicians vital support in identifying and tracking at-risk patients who present suspicious lung nodules which may or may not be cancerous. This enables early intervention and gives doctors a huge opportunity to get patients treated and cured before the disease metastasizes to other organs – with potential to increase lung cancer survival rates.
“There is an expected 25% increase in cancer cases in Europe over the next decade. The actions we take to improve prevention and early detection are more important now than ever before. That is why we at EIT Health help start-ups such as Optellum, with European funding and market access opportunities,” said Graham Armitage, Interim Managing Director at EIT Health Ireland-UK.
“Optellum has worked collaboratively with leading global clinicians and hospitals to not only improve lung cancer survival rates but also generate cost-savings. We at EIT Health Ireland-UK congratulate Optellum on this significant Series A investment.”
Optellum’s advanced AI technology was developed as part of the EIT Health LUCINDA innovation project, and has recently been launched onto the market. It is the first software platform of its kind to achieve clearance under CE-Medical Device Regulation (MDR) in Europe, FDA in the US, and UKCA in the UK.
“At Optellum our goal is to redefine early interception of lung disease – starting with lung cancer – by enabling every clinician to make the right decisions and give their patients the best chance to fight back. The Series A funding will enable us to scale our customer base, and expand our platform into supporting personalized therapy decisions, towards providing curative options to many more lung cancer patients,” said Dr. Václav Potěšil, Founder and Chief Business Officer at Optellum.
“The early funding and mentoring support we received from EIT Health was invaluable as it introduced us to investors and helped get our business plan in order. Working on an EIT Health-funded innovation project with world-class partners meant we had the support we needed to get our AI platform market-ready.”
Optellum took part in EIT Health’s Catapult pitching competition in 2016, and was also awarded grant funding through the Headstart programme that same year.