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HomeminewsAU$18M Investment Backs Eyetelligence

AU$18M Investment Backs Eyetelligence

Professor Mingguang He

Professor Mingguang He

In “a nod to Australia’s cutting-edge biotech sector”, Ascertain, a New York-based healthtech company creation platform, has invested US$12 (A$18) in Eyetelligence.

Eyetelligence uses retinal imaging, and advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technology based on the inventions of Professor Mingguang He, to screen for eye and systemic diseases.

Prof He, who is a leading clinician-scientist at the University of Melbourne and the Centre for Eye Research Australia founded Eyetelligence, and now Optain, in collaboration with Jason Sun.

Eyetelligence has developed a suite of clinically validated and regulatory approved AI-enabled products already being commercialised in the Australian, New Zealand, European, and Japanese markets. Its products are used by the Bupa Optical and George & Matilda optometry chains in Australia.

Optain’s first goal is to expand access to screenings and diagnosis for preventable eye disease, closing critical health equity gaps, particularly in underserved communities

“The three most common eye diseases – diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma – can be detected far earlier with algorithmic retinal image analysis. These three diseases, however, are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Prof Mingguang He. “The eye is a window through which we can discern any disease that affects the microvascular system. This technology allows clinicians to act faster and prevent significant impacts on quality of life.”

An Eye on Australia

Eyetelligence is the first international investment by Ascertain, a first of its kind partnership between Aegis Ventures, a next-generation healthcare-focused venture studio, and Northwell Health, one of the largest health systems in the US. According to a statement, Ascertain is “committed to accelerating the development of healthcare AI companies globally with a specific eye on Australia”.

“Australia has a successful track record of health and biomedical innovations that have been scaled up internationally. Our world-class universities, highly skilled talent and complementary regulatory environment make our healthtech ecosystem a global leader,” said Daniel Boyer, Deputy CEO at the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade). “Ascertain’s investment in Eyetelligence is a nod to Australia’s cutting-edge biotech sector and shows we are increasingly a partner of choice for US investors.”

Rebranding as Optain

Eyetelligence will be rebranded and launched in the US as Optain and aims to enable non-invasive point-of-care technology to diagnose a range of diseases more rapidly, cost-effectively, and accessibly. By enabling earlier diagnosis and treatment, the technology can drive better patient outcomes and cost savings across health systems.

“The healthcare industry has made a concerted effort in recent years to shift treatment from reactive sick-care to proactive preventive care, but many of the legacy screening and diagnostic technologies used by clinicians today are expensive and inaccessible,” said Jeff Dunkel, CEO of Optain. “Optain will accelerate that shift and make preventive care ubiquitous by placing smarter, faster, and more efficient diagnostic tools in the hands of clinicians everywhere.”

“The most immediate opportunity for impact is within ophthalmology,” Dunkel adds. “Optain’s first goal is to expand access to screenings and diagnosis for preventable eye disease, closing critical health equity gaps, particularly in underserved communities where diagnostic and screening tools aren’t available.”

The Ascertain collaboration will accelerate the availability of Optain’s world-leading Australian technology in American markets. Eyetelligence will continue to expand under its current brand in Australia and other international markets.

Ascertain’s first-of-its-kind company creation platform provides emerging startups access to major early commercialisation partners, regulatory and go-to-market expertise, valuable health data and institutional capital.