China medical imaging artificial intelligence company Huiying Medical Technology Co., Ltd., has received hundreds of millions of yuan in a funding round, 36kr reported.
Aside from backing by previous investors including CDH Investments, Delta Capital and BlueRun Ventures, state-owned fund companies Beijing Shougang Fund and two subsidiaries of the Sinopharm Group invested.
The company didn't disclose the exact figures. Sources familiar with the matter said this fundraising breaks the company's previous records.
It will spend the proceeds on innovation, business development and team expansion, according to company sources.
AI Solution For COVID-19 Diagnosis
During the early part of the COVID-19 outbreak, the company developed a medical imaging diagnostic solution based on CT data from over 4,000 coronary cases.
It uses CT chest scans to assist with early detection of coronavirus infections, particularly when standard testing, such as reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, is negative, according to a research paper published in the journal Radiology.
Although these CT scan results aren't conclusive in determining coronavirus infections, the company's AI solutions analyzed indicators which provided a probability of suspected infection, with as high as 96% novel coronavirus pneumonia classification rate, according to a marketing statement on intel.com.
Running on Intel processors and deployed with Interl's OpenVINO framework for machine learning development, the AI solution only takes one day to install and two to three seconds to process a CT study with 500 images, either through the cloud or on premises.
However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends against the use of CT scans or X-rays for COVID-19 diagnosis, because even the best AI systems sometimes can't tell the difference between COVID-19 and common lung infections like bacterial or viral pneumonia, according to venturebeat.com.
Up to 50 countries around the world have used Huiying Medical's AI-assisted scanning system during the pandemic, according to pedaily.com.
A Prescription For The Future
"AI embedded in medical imaging is critical in the long term," said Wang Zhijian, the chief investment officer of Shouguang Fund. "Huiying Medical has improved doctors' diagnosis efficiency with its fundamental technology basis and deep collaboration with over 1,000 domestic hospitals."
Shougang Fund was established in 2014 by Beijing Municipal government and state-owned steel company Shougang Group. The fund is reportedly responsible for managing an industrial investment fund for Beijing and Hebei collaborative development. It has received a capital reserve with injections totaling 13 billion yuan ($1.98 billion) from the Beijing government and expects to receive another 2 billion yuan this year.
China's leaders emphasized domestic development of technologies. Artificial intelligence, semiconductors for computers and smartphones, next-generation telecoms and other technologies are the foundation of the economic blueprint.
According to International Data Corp. projections, the global artificial intelligence application market will reach $127 billion by 2025, with the medical sector accounting for up to 20%.
Headquartered in Beijing with a branch in Silicon Valley, Huiying Medical has established an AI collaboration lab with Stanford University, Tsinghua Strait Research Institute, Intel and Beijing Friendship Hospital and also is in strategic cooperation relationships with China Telecom, China Unicom, Tencent Holdings, Alibaba Group and Sinopharm, according to the company's website.
With deep learning, computer vision and other core technologies, it owns three major AI platforms - NovaCloud, Dr. Turing, and RedCloud, which provide AI assisted scanning systems for diagnosing pneumonia, liver cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, brain cancer and other diseases.
The company co-founder Guo Na told pedaily.com that the new funding round will go toward expanding to cover diagnosing more kinds of disease or illness. For instance, a new AI scanning system for diagnosing bone fractures, which is a condition secondary to cardiovascular issues in China, was created by the company three years ago and is ready to be used in common practice.