Startup provides affordable breast cancer screening services to enable early disease detection for the masses in India and other low resource markets
25 May 2015. Bangalore, India: Unitus Ventures, India’s leading venture seed fund supporting startups innovating for the masses, announced UE LifeSciences has been selected to join its India StartHealth investment program. UE LifeSciences has invented a patent-pending, low-cost, portable breast screening device which has potential to save the lives of 10’s of lakhs of women in India through early-stage detection of breast cancer. UE LifeSciences will receive initial funding of INR 50 lakhs ($80,000), go-to-market support from StartHealth partners Unitus, PATH, Manipal Hospitals, Narayana Health, & Pfizer, and potential follow-on investment of at least INR 1 crore ($160,000).
|UE LifeSciences selected for StartHealth Program, breast cancer screening to get a boost in India|
In 2012, 145,000 new cases and 70,000 deaths were reported due to breast cancer in India. The survival rate is poor (40-60%) because more than 60-70% of the cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage (Stage IIb or later) significantly due to the lack of screening programs prevalent in western countries. Mammography led screening is virtually impossible in India, with limited radiology manpower and competing healthcare priorities.
iBE: an ultra-portable, low-cost wireless breast scanning device
UE LifeScience’s iBE (intelligent Breast Examination) is a low-cost, portable, patent-pending and FDA approved (Breast Lesion Documentation System) medical device that can be operated by a health worker in a health clinic, a temporary health camp, or at a home. The device is a handheld scanner, is non-invasive, is radiation-free and is very easy to learn to operate. iBE pairs with a smartphone app (via bluetooth) and as the scanning is conducted, scanning results appear on the phone’s screen. The app alerts the health worker if any abnormalities are detected so that she can refer the patient for further evaluation. A screening is expected to be priced as low as INR 100 (~$1.50) making it affordable to most Indian women.
“We have developed a product that is absolutely suitable for the Indian market; It is non-invasive, painless, accurate and provides results in less than five minutes at the point-of-care. It is potentially THE answer for breast cancer early detection for women in India,” said Mihir Shah, Co-Founder and CEO of UE LifeSciences. “We are very pleased with the results from the initial trials we’ve conducted in the USA and India, and will be using the new funding to expand our trials and implement our go-to-market investments in India.”
Founding team brings significant experience to venture
Mihir Shah, UE LifeSciences’ Founder & CEO, has significant experience in developing and commercializing innovative medical devices including NoTouch BreastScan™, InfraScan™, IQ™ and Zoe™. He co-founded UE LifeSciences in 2009 to develop innovative and yet cost & clinically-effective tools to battle the burden of breast cancer in geographies where incidence is on the rise and where western protocols for screening women is unadoptable or unsustainable.
Prof. Matthew Campisi is the Co-founder & CTO at UE LifeSciences. Prof. Campisi leads product research and development including electronics design, software, analytics & signal processing aspects. In the past, Prof. Campisi has led the product development efforts for various medical devices such as NoTouch BreastScan and Sentinel BreastScan. As an industry professor, he teaches several courses at the Electronics and Electrical engineering department at NYU Polytechnic Institute.
Bhaumik Sanghvi heads India based operations for UE LifeSciences and is the co-founder of our India office. He has been chiefly responsible for the management of clinical studies and providing training and technical support to R&D partners as well as customers in India. Bhaumik also manages sales and marketing of UE LifeSciences products and services in India as a part of his role. Mr. Sanghvi has been instrumental in organizing several breast health camps across India in collaboration with various non-profit and social organizations.
Hakki Yegingil, PhD (VP Science and Technology) is the co-inventor of the piezoelectric sensor technology used in iBreastExam; he directs iBE sensor design, fabrication and assembly processes. Dr. Yegingil holds a doctorate in Materials Science and Engineering from Drexel University, where he led the development of the first iBE clinical prototype, as well as the preliminary ex-vivo and in-vivo studies. He is granted multiple US and international patents for his work on piezoelectric materials and sensors.
“We are very pleased to announce our investment in Mihir and his team who are working on devices which could become the new standard of care for breast screening in India and other low-resource markets around the world,” said Dave Richards, Managing Partner, Unitus Ventures. “We are also excited about the opportunity to support a company that is taking a ‘Make in India’ approach to manufacture the devices inside India.”
About StartHealth Program
StartHealth program was launched by Unitus Ventures, Pfizer Inc., PATH, Manipal Hospitals and Narayana Health in early 2015. This is an innovative program to provide up to INR 10 crore (US$1.6M) in grants and investments to very early-stage startups seeking to enhance access to affordable technology-driven healthcare products and services for the low-income masses in India. It offers for-profit healthcare startups with non-dilutive capital, hands-on support, access to expert advisors, medical facilities, and seed venture capital, enabling them to more efficiently and effectively complete development and scale their operations in India.
About UE LifeSciences
UE LifeSciences Inc. (UELS) is working to address healthcare related disparities affecting developing countries by innovating and commercializing affordable medical technologies that community health workers can operate easily, with minimal training. Based on disruptive materials and sensors, UELS is commercializing clinically effective, non-radiological tools that aid the early detection of breast cancer in low-resource settings.
About Unitus Ventures
Unitus Ventures is the leading venture seed fund supporting startups innovating for the masses in India. Unitus invests in healthcare, education, mobile commerce & value-added services, marketplaces & e-commerce, retail & distribution, agriculture, and water & energy sectors. Founded in 2012, Unitus Ventures is part of the Unitus Group, a premier financial services group operating in India and other emerging markets since 2000. Unitus Ventures is based in Bangalore and Seattle.