The Co-investment Fund invested in an artificial intelligence solution for heart disease examination
The Venture Capital Fund Co-Investment Fund, together with the members of the Lithuanian Business Angel Network LitBAN, invested in Lithuanian startup Ligence which has developed software with artificial intelligence solutions for heart disease examination. Eight young medics, who are the authors of this idea, believe that their solution will facilitate cardiac ultrasound imaging, will contribute to the fight against COVID-19 and the promotion of smart Lithuania worldwide. The total investment in the startup amounts to EUR 360 thousand, part of the Co-investment Fund amounts to EUR 260 thousand.
Currently, cardiac ultrasound imaging requires doctors to do a lot of manual work. In contrast, doctors have to press buttons on the ultrasonic apparatus, and the quality of the examination itself depends on the skills and experience of the doctor. For this reason, the Ligence team came up with an idea of creating software which automates cardiac ultrasound imaging, in other words, software that performs heart measurements itself and helps to diagnose heart changes if any are present. It has become of particular relevance today when the world is looking for methods to curb the COVID-19 pandemic and to reduce its consequences. Since coronavirus can damage the heart muscle, Ligence is already developing a system to detect damages to the heart caused by COVID-19.
“A number of automation solutions have already been developed for chest radiography, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. However, cardiac ultrasound imaging is still lagging behind global progress, and due to insufficient automation, heart diseases are not always diagnosed correctly. For example, measurements made by two cardiologists in examining the same patient can vary greatly, while the automated system is more accurate. Patients in the European Union are currently waiting in line for this examination, and their average waiting time is about 5 weeks. Our solution would allow more patients to be admitted and reduce waiting lines in the medical facilities“, – tells Dovydas Matuliauskas, the Chief Financial Officer at the company Ligence.
Two young medics Arnas Karužas and Karolis Šablauskas are those persons who came with the idea of creating an artificial intelligence system in cardiac ultrasound imaging. The first examinations performed were promising. Consequently, the authors of the idea decided to form a team and start work.
Today, a total of 8 medics, who have considerable experience in developing artificial intelligence solutions, work in Ligence. Together with A. Karužas and K. Šablauskas works Dovydas Matuliauskas, Antanas Kiziela, Justinas Balčiūnas, Dovydas Verikas, Laurynas Skrodenis and Eligija Teleišytė. Today, the company already has the first users of the product in Australia, and it aims to become in the future a startup that creates high added value and real benefits for the society. The medics intend to allocate the investment funds for the final development of the product, marketing, product certification and its introduction in the market.
“The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic forced the whole world to turn to medicine. Therefore, the artificial intelligence system developed by Ligence today is particularly important in finding ways to treat the disease. This investment contributes not only to health-promotion or improvement of the medical system, but it is also a big step towards progress. Thanks to such inventions by Ligence, Lithuania may become a country of not only developers of financial technology but also of artificial intelligence“, – says Viktorija Vaitkeviciene, the Director of the Co-investment Fund.
Vladas Lašas, Rita Sakus and other members of the Lithuanian Business Angel Network LitBAN invested in the startup Ligence together with the Co-investment Fund.
“Artificial intelligence technologies are crucial in forming more accurate, faster and more accessible scientific and medical assistance in the future. These decisions are particularly important for the maturing society, and this pandemic further highlighted the huge benefits of this field on patients and specialists. We are happy to make a substantial contribution to the development of this strong team”, – says Rita Sakus, one of the investors and the member of the Board of LitBAN.
Vladas Lašas, the representatives of the investors and the Chairman of the Board of LitBAN, adds: “We are happy to help, with our experience and investment, this dream team of medical and technology professionals to grow even faster”.
The rate of worldwide mortality from cardiovascular diseases is 37%, and in the European Union, these diseases affect more than 6 million people every year. Thus, the fact that last year the startup won the “Pioneer” competition organized by Silicon Valley, and has already won several technology competitions this year also shows that the artificial intelligence system developed by Ligence is needed for the examination of heart diseases.
The investment was made from the Co-Investment Fund II funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This instrument is one of the four instruments implemented by the Co-Investment Fund. For more information about the Fund visit www.koinvest.lt.