HeartLab raises $1.1 million from Icehouse Ventures & Founders Fund
AUCKLAND, New Zealand, October 15, 2020
Medtech startup HeartLab, which helps doctors diagnose and treat heart disease through artificial intelligence (AI), has raised $1.1 million in a funding round led by Icehouse Ventures, with support from US-based Founders Fund and other private investors.
This investment also marks the first investment for the LevelTwo Deep Technology fund established last month, which is a collaboration between Icehouse Ventures and Level Two.
HeartLab was founded less than two years ago at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute by Will Hewitt while he was an 18 year old first year applied mathematics student at the University of Auckland; and cardiologist Dr Patrick A. Gladding, an expert in cardiac imaging who has previously founded a company specialising in molecular diagnostics.
The company is building the next-generation of AI tools to improve the way doctors diagnose and treat cardiovascular disease, the number one cause of death globally and responsible for one in three New Zealand deaths.
The funds raised will help HeartLab bring its technology to the New Zealand market, and expand its team.
HeartLab’s technology enables doctors to extract significantly more information from an echocardiogram, the ultrasound test used to examine a patient’s heart structure and function. It also automates the repetitive and time-intensive tasks associated with taking measurements from these tests, dramatically speeding up the time needed by doctors to interpret the results, which is currently around 20 minutes for each test.
“We’re getting doctors off of their computer back in front of their patients”, CEO Will Hewitt, now 20. “The technology used when scanning the heart continues to improve, yet the technology available to help doctors review the scan has not kept up - it’s mostly a manual process. We are using AI to unlock more information from echocardiography so doctors can make better clinical decisions and improve patient outcomes.”
With aging populations increasing in many countries, demand for cardiac services continues to grow, and this demand is acute in New Zealand where there are only 100 registered cardiologists to review the 100,000 echocardiograms performed annually.
“Our health system is under enormous pressure,” says Dr Gladding. “We can reduce the pressure on cardiologists, get more people through the health system and save thousands more lives by using HeartLab’s technology to help us.”
Icehouse Ventures introduced HeartLab to Founders Fund Partner Scott Nolan through an ‘office hours’ session, offered to startups enrolled in its Flux Accelerator programme, which HeartLab joined last week. The company is the fourth New Zealand business the San Francisco-based Founders Fund has invested in and is the third investment it has made alongside Icehouse Ventures.
“We are excited to back HeartLab and their vision to transform cardiology,” says Scott Nolan. “Automated systems that streamline doctor’s workflows and identify subtle patterns are part of healthcare’s future, and Will and Patrick are carving this path for cardiovascular care.”
Icehouse Ventures CEO Robbie Paul says, “HeartLab embodies so much of what we look for in startups. They have unique perspectives on the world, their tech is based on highly intellectual foundations and university research, and they have the brave ambition to apply technology that addresses the world’s number one killer disease.
“This investment is also a great case study of collaboration between Icehouse Ventures, LevelTwo** Ventures’ new deep tech fund, and Founders Fund, a top pedigree US VC.”