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Samsung and Bayer Invest in A.I. Doctor App Ada Health

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Berlin-based Ada Health, which has developed a doctor-in-your-pocket-style app that uses artificial intelligence to try to diagnose symptoms, has been backed by investment arms of South Korea’s Samsung and German pharmaceutical giant Bayer.

Ada Health announced Thursday it has raised a $90 million funding round at an undisclosed valuation that brings total investment in the company up to around $150 million.

Bayer led the round through its Leaps by Bayer investment arm, while Samsung invested through the Samsung Catalyst Fund, a U.S.-based venture capital fund that Samsung Electronics uses to back companies worldwide. Samsung Electronics’ former chief strategy officer and corporate president, Young Sohn, has joined the board of Ada Health.

Founded in 2011 by entrepreneurs Dr. Claire Novorol, Martin Hirsch and Daniel Nathrath, Ada Health says its app has been downloaded over 11 million times.

“The app basically works like a WhatsApp chat with your trusted family doctor, but 24/7,” CEO Nathrath told CNBC.

The patient starts by entering their symptoms, and an AI chatbot will ask a series of questions to try to determine the issue. After that, the app will present the patient with the conditions that are most likely to be the cause and offers some suggestions on what to do next to address the issue.

The iOS and Android apps give generic advice such as to see a GP in the next three days. But when patients interact with Ada Health through a health system that uses the app, they can go straight into booking an appointment and sharing the outcome of their pre-assessment with a real doctor, Nathrath said.

He said the company has signed deals with several health systems, health insurers and life sciences companies. Axa OneHealth, Novartis, Pfizer and SutterHealth are listed as partners on Ada Health’s website.

While the app is free for patients to download, Ada Health charges partners for access to its software.

The company said the new funding will be used to help it expand deeper into the U.S., which is already its biggest market with 2 million users. Elsewhere, Ada Health has roughly 4 million users across the U.K., Germany, Brazil and India, with roughly 1 million in each.

The funding will also be used to improve the company’s algorithms, add to the medical knowledge base and go beyond 10 languages, Nathrath said.

He also wants to feed the Ada Health app with more information beyond symptom data provided by the patient. That could include lab data, genetic testing and sensor data, Nathrath said.

“Smartwatches and other sensors have really made a big leap forward,” Nathrath said. “Nowadays you can measure your blood pressure, you can do an ECG, measure heart rate variability and blood oxygen levels.”

“Our ambition is really to build what we call a personal operating system for health where you wouldn’t just have a symptom check, but you would be able to integrate all relevant sources of health information in a way where ideally Ada becomes this companion that can alert you before the £100 problem becomes a £100,000 a year problem.”

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Fund Raising

Edutech Firm Gets $40m Fund For E-learning Expansion

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Start-up - Investors King

A digital educational company, Classera Inc. has disclosed that it raised $40m for its global expansion in its Series A funding round.

The edutech firm expressed readiness to enlarge its e-learning platform scope to further penetrate into more African nations. 

Investors King learnt that Classera engages the world’s latest technology to bring about a positive transformation in the educational system. It encourages the use of digital communication systems instead of the traditional learning methods at all levels of education.

A statement by the company explained that the Series A funding round was embarked on by the Public Investment Fund-owned Sanabil Investments, in collaboration with Global Ventures, Seedra Venture, Endeavor Catalyst, Sukna Venture and 500 Global Company.

Classera averred that the fund gathered would be used to expand into Asia Pacific and other parts of the world, selling more educational solutions and partnering with other organisations.

The company said in a release that the round was led by the Public Investment Fund-owned Sanabil Investments, accompanied by Global Ventures, Endeavor Catalyst, 500 Global, Sukna Venture, and Seedra Ventures.

According to the Strategic Partnerships Director of Classera Inc., Mahmoud Gabry, the firm has its focus on Africa in its scope expansion.

He expressed excitement with the company’s new partnership with TD Africa which has a rich database and records on e-learning solutions in Nigeria and Ghana.

Gabry said, “As we just completed one of the largest funding rounds a company with no prior funding had done in the EdTech industry, we are determined to extend our worldwide presence focusing on Africa to accomplish our vision.

“Today, I am very excited about our new partnership with TD Africa to empower the learning journey of our clients in Nigeria and Ghana benefiting from the innovation brought by Classera and its globally recognized and awarded learning solutions spearheaded by its state of art Learning Super Platform.”

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Fund Raising

Lagos-Based Tech Startups Raised $750 million in 2022

Lagos now ranks 81 globally as one of the leading hubs for startups

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Tech Start-up operating in Lagos State has so far raised $750 million in 2022, the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Innovation and Technology, Tunbosun Alake stated on Thursday at the opening of the 4th Art of Lagos (AOT) Conference. 

While noting that the state has become the number one startup capital in Africa, Alake said Lagos now ranks 81 globally as one of the leading hubs for startups.

He added that Lagos is also number one in Africa in terms of the volume of deals that have been sealed from 2019 to date.

Also speaking at the conference, Lagos State Deputy Governor, Obafemi Hamzat noted that Lagos State has been able to provide an enabling environment where startups and small businesses could thrive. 

Similarly, speaking further, Alake revealed that the increasing number of investors putting their money in Lagos state is a result of the conducive environment for investment and not because of the large population. 

“Investors are coming to Lagos because there have been many things we have been doing to encourage and to make sure the ecosystem is right for these investments. And Lagos is a place investor love to come to, not just because of the size of the market but also because of the potential of the returns on their investments,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Lagos State has disclosed that it has plans to enter into the venture market, thereby launching a venture fund of its own. Investors King learnt.

The special adviser noted that the soon-to-be-launched capital venture fund will “write bigger equity cheques for Nigerian startups than most privately-owned VC”.

“We are working to launch a Lagos venture fund of bigger ticket sizes,” Alake said. “Where normal VCs expect to cash in returns in 5 to 10 years, we are going to be able to do more time because we need more mission-critical products that would serve the citizens.” 

“The fund would be cross-sectoral including fintech, agriculture, health, and most importantly, “research and development startups,” he added. 

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Fund Raising

Property Tech Company, VENCO Secures $670,000 Pre-Seed Funding

The company stated that the fund will be deployed to scale its all-in-one technology platform

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Nigeria property technology company, VENCO has secured $670,000 in an oversubscribed pre-seed funding round.

The company stated that the fund will be deployed to scale its all-in-one technology platform that manages collections, service charge administration, utilities, and visitor access, among other services associated with multi-unit property developments across Africa.

Founded by Chude Osiegbu (CEO), Reagan Mbitiru (CTO), and Uzochukwu Alor (COO), VENCO already has a growing presence in both Nigeria and Kenya with the plan to expand to other cities and countries in Africa. 

The CEO, Chude Osiegbu stated that VENCO was used by 100 estates on about 4000 property units in 2021. He added that the startup is currently in 186 estates with about 12,000 property units and now has larger estates like Banana Island and 1004 in its roster.

Although Osiegbu noted that the company presently relies on subscription fees that it charges for the deployment of its software solution, he nevertheless stated that VENCO has a long-term plan to introduce a number of monetised operations.

He added that the startup already helped finance the purchase of prepaid energy meters for the Primewater View Gardens estate, and the Tejuosho Market, a shopping mall.

In the last 9 months, VENCO says it has recorded over 200 percent growth, currently in 6 cities in Nigeria and Kenya. 

Dating from the beginning of this year, VENCO noted that it has processed more than $10 million in transaction value via its platform. The company added that it is already in talks with e-commerce platforms to enable easier access to merchants within and around the community. 

Investors King learnt that some of the investors that participated in the pre-seed funding round include Zrosk Investment Management, Voltron Capital, Decimal Point Ventures, Fast Forward Fund, Tayo Oviosu (CEO of Paga), Odun Eweniyi (COO of Piggyvest), Oo Nwoye, Desigan Chinniah, Dakar Network Angels and Viktoria Business Angel Network.

Speaking at the event, Samson Esemuede, Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer at  Zrosk Investment Management, said, “ We view VENCO as both a SaaS and a financial inclusion play with a potential for strong multiplicative impact across the continent.”

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