AI medical imaging company Presagen has raised AUD$4.5 million Seed investment from Australian and U.S. private investors, and the South Australian Government. The investment will accelerate the commercialization of Presagen’s Life Whisperer product which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify healthy embryos in IVF with the aim of improving pregnancy outcomes for infertile couples globally. The investment will also enable Presagen to explore other medical applications beyond IVF using its advanced image-based medical diagnostics platform.
Private investment of $3 million was raised from Jungle Capital Group, an Australian investment group, and 3Lines Venture Capital, a Denver, US based investment firm with a strategic interest in advising global AI startups on international market access to the USA and India.
Presagen also secured funding from the South Australian State Government, who will match investors’ funding to provide $1.5 million through the Research, Commercialisation and Startup Fund.
South Australia’s Chief Entrepreneur Jim Whalley said the funding will support product development, regulatory approvals, sales and expansion to international markets. “With a potential $700 million in commercial opportunity for this company, this will create highly skilled jobs for South Australians, and will further enhance the State’s capability and reputation in Artificial Intelligence and software development,” Mr Whalley said.
“We view this as a significant show of faith from the Government and one of the many ways the Marshall Government is trying to build a deep technology industry in South Australia. There is a recognition from the Government that their funding support will help to mobilize more private investment for higher risk companies such as Presagen in the medical device and AI industry, allowing these companies to grow from South Australia.” Presagen CEO, Dr Michelle Perugini says.
Presagen’s first product Life Whisperer successfully concluded an international clinical study with 12 IVF clinics across the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia that demonstrated its AI can identify which patient embryos are more likely to lead to a pregnancy with a 30% accuracy improvement when compared to highly skilled embryologists. The technology has the potential to improve pregnancy success rates for infertile couples around the world that are undergoing IVF treatment.
A preliminary U.S. clinical study also showed that Presagen’s AI may detect Down Syndrome to a high level of accuracy through non-invasive analysis of 2D images of embryos.
Life Whisperer has received many global accolades including a 2018 Talent Unleashed Global Innovation Award judged by Steve Wozniak and Sir Richard Branson, and Top 5 finalists in TechCrunch Start-up Battlefield Australia. Presagen Co-Founder and CEO, Dr Michelle Perugini was also recognized in 2018 as Top 40 under 40 Innovator, and Co-Founder and CTO Dr Jonathan Hall was recognized earlier this year as a MIT Technology Review Innovator under 35.
Life Whisperer has been a keen focus of Presagen and is currently going through regulatory approvals in Australia, Europe, and the U.S. with a view to being available for clinics and patients this year.
The product allows non-invasive analysis of embryo images taken after five days of embryo culture during IVF. The web-based tool allows clinicians anywhere in the world to drag and drop embryo images onto the Life Whisperer application, where the AI assesses the images and instantly returns a viability confidence score for each embryo that can support the clinician’s decision as to which embryo should be transferred to the IVF mother.
“We are so proud to have developed a product with both the clinic and the IVF couples in mind. Life Whisperer is non-invasive, low cost, and can be delivered at scale to patients all over the world. It fits within the current workflow of clinics and requires no expensive or specialized hardware, so the barriers to uptake by clinics is minimal. It is our view that Life Whisperer will become a gold-standard pre-screen for all couples undergoing IVF.” Dr Jonathan Hall says.
Initially Life Whisperer will be offered to patients in Australia via the Monash IVF Group. Once regulatory clearance in the U.S. has been approved Life Whisperer will be offered to patients throughout the U.S. via IVF clinics, including Life Whisperer’s partner Ovation Fertility network that operate across 8 U.S. states and are prolific supporters of new technology in the industry.
Presagen’s success with Life Whisperer has already sparked interest from other medical and research institutes to apply Presagen’s AI platform to other image-based medical diagnostics applications outside of the fertility sector.
Presagen has a unique model of engagement whereby it co-creates AI software with a global co-operative cohort of data contributors, such as medical and research institutes. The Presagen platform ensures that each medical institute’s data safely remains local and isolated in the country or region of origin. AI that is developed is then commercialized by Presagen using its pre-built drag and drop, cloud-based patient diagnostics application, providing a way for those data contributors to monetize their data through ongoing revenue sharing from the commercial success of the product.
Presagen Co-Founder Dr Don Perugini says “this is our way of mobilizing data for the benefit of both institutes and patients that would otherwise remain in the clutches of individual institutes where it is of little value. This allows us to create effective AI and share back the value with data contributors whilst solving critical image-based medical diagnostics problems.”
Dr Michelle Perugini says “The South Australian Government has made many bold attempts over the last 12 months to put South Australia front and center, and on the global stage. With bridging programs being made with Silicon Valley and Austin Texas, as well as local support programs for growing companies within the State, there is a flurry of activity and a strong encouraging shift in the culture in South Australia which is one of hope and support, signifying a maturing ecosystem.”