Dave Billiter, an Ohio native and graduate of Ohio Northern University and Columbus Southern University, joined Nationwide Children’s Hospital in 2004, where he led the health system’s informatics efforts. There, he oversaw the creation of a digital pathology suite that has since been used by clinicians at 65 institutions in eight countries. And if all goes according to plan, the platform he greenlit will serve as the foundation for an ambitious cloud-hosted, AI-powered toolset that’ll be free of charge for doctors around the world.
Billiter teamed up with Simon Arkell, the founding CEO of analytics company Predixion Software, to launch Deep Lens, a startup that aims to commercialize some of the technologies Billiter helped develop. The Columbus, Ohio company today exited from stealth with a $3.2 million seed funding round led by Sierra Ventures, with participation from Rev1 Ventures and Tamarind-Hill Fund.
“We have been diligently analyzing AI and computer vision in the health care market,” said Mark Fernande, managing director at Sierra Ventures, “and we believe Deep Lens has the key components to make a significant impact in digital pathology with a strong team, leading technology, and vast market opportunity.”
Deep Lens’ flagship product is Virtual Imaging for Pathology Education and Research, or VIPER. It’s a full stack solution consisting of an artificially intelligent (AI) image detection suite, feedback tools, cloud storage, and APIs for integration with hardware and applications — all designed to facilitate peer-to-peer collaboration and clinical research, Billiter said.
Deep Lens charges institutions and companies a subscription fee, but it’s free for individual pathologists and pathology groups.
“VIPER has always been about empowering and enabling the pathology community, allowing them to focus on the nuanced diagnoses and case-specific details that require many years of specialized medical training,” he said. “It’s incredibly exciting to now leverage the evolution in machine vision technology as we launch VIPER globally, free of charge to benefit all pathologists and, in turn, their patients.”
Deep Lens will fight for a slice of the anticipated $35 billion health care cloud computing market against startups like PathAI, which employs machine learning techniques to improve diagnostic accuracy, and Inspirata and Proscia, both of which provide platforms that digitize and automate pathology workflows. But unlike some of its competitors, the Columbus startup isn’t just targeting hospitals and clinics.
Arkell says it’s already in talks with pharmaceutical companies that hope to use VIPER to access and identify potential candidates for clinical trials.
“Recruitment for clinical trials is a big, expensive problem for that industry,” he told FierceBiotech in an interview. “What we provide is, for the first time, a direct channel to pathology.”
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