Aignostics closes €5m seed financing to advance AI-based solutions for pathology
BERLIN, August 28, 2020 - Aignostics, a spin-off of Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) that develops AI-based solutions for pathology, today announced the completion of a €5m seed financing. Böhringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (BIVF) acted as lead investor, with participation of High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), the VC Fonds Technologie of IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft, as well as Future Capital.
Formally, the development of Aignostics began in early 2018, when researchers from Charité and TU Berlin joined the Digital Health Accelerator (DHA) program of BIH to further develop their innovative research in AI-based pathology and "Explainable AI" into a spin-off.
However, the foundation for Aignostics was laid much earlier, by Prof. Frederick Klauschen, Deputy Director of the Institute of Pathology at Charité, and researchers from the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and TU Berlin, under the direction of Prof. Klaus-Robert Müller, Director of the Berlin Center for Machine Learning (BZML), who filed their first patent for AI-based pathology in 2011. Prof. Klauschen, who studied physics as well as medicine, recognized the potential of AI for pathology early on. "While pathologists are excellent at comprehensively analyzing the morphological characteristics of tissue in individual samples, AI is particularly well suited for the standardized and quantitative evaluation of individual characteristics, as well as for uncovering correlations in larger data sets, such as clinical studies," explains Prof. Klauschen.
The proprietary "Explainable AI" platform from Aignostics is particularly well suited for such uncovering of new correlations. It is based on research of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, the Charité and the TU Berlin and allows to overcome the often criticized "black box" problem of AI in pathology. "Explainable AI is a new and exciting field in modern AI research with great potential for both science and industry", says Prof. Müller. "For example, we can train our AI with tissue samples that show a positive or negative response to therapy. We can then have the AI graphically "explain" to us which morphological characteristics distinguish positive cases from negative cases," Dr. Maximilian Alber, CTO of Aignostics, continues. "This technology is not only essential for routine diagnostics, where it can help to verify the functioning of AI applications, but is also a very interesting approach to find potential new biomarkers that can predict therapy response," adds Prof. Klauschen.
"What makes us unique is not only our technology, but also our organizational structure. We have extensive access to multimodal data as well as pathologists, which enables us to develop customized algorithms for a wide range of applications, from diagnostics to research to CDx. In addition, our close networking with the Charité and the TU Berlin is a great advantage, as we develop our applications in constant exchange with computer scientists, researchers, as well as pathologists as "end users"", explains Viktor Matyas, CEO of Aignostics. "We are also very grateful for the support of the Charité, BIH and Ascenion, without whom we would not have gotten this far", Matyas continues.
Aignostics will use the funding to expand its portfolio in pharmaceutical research as well as to finance longer-term projects aimed at the development of Companion/Complementary Diagnostics (CDx) for routine diagnostics. "We find Aignostics' approach very promising and believe that more specific diagnostics will enable more personalized, effective treatment for patients," said Alexander Ehlgen, M.D., BIVF.
About Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund GmbH:
The Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (BIVF) promotes early-stage research and technologies through strategic investments. With a volume of EUR 300 million, the BIVF invests in biotech and start-up companies that have the potential to develop breakthrough technologies. The BIVF portfolio currently consists of 34 companies. In addition, the BIVF supports the foundation of new companies based on promising research projects at universities or academic institutions. The BIVF's interest in young, technology-oriented companies reflects its commitment to promoting innovative ideas and new scientific approaches. Thus, the BIVF creates opportunities for Boehringer Ingelheim to expand into new business areas with a focus on oncology, regenerative medicine, infectious diseases and digital health.
About High-Tech Gründerfonds
The seed investor High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) finances technology start-ups with growth potential. With a volume of approximately 900 million Euros distributed over three funds and an international partner network, the HTGF has supported almost 600 start-ups since 2005. Its team of experienced investment managers and start-up experts supports the young companies with know-how, entrepreneurial spirit and passion. The focus is on high-tech start-ups in the fields of digital business models, industrial-tech, life sciences, chemistry and related business areas. To date, external investors have invested more than 2.5 billion euros in the HTGF portfolio in more than 1,600 follow-up financing rounds. In addition, the fund has already successfully sold shares in more than 100 companies.
Investors in the public-private partnership include the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, KfW Capital, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the 32 companies. Our Fund Investors.
Dr. Julian Zachmann
High-Tech Gründerfonds Management GmbH
Tel: +49 170 930 55 17
About Future Capital:
Future Capital (www.future-capital.com) is a public-private partnership between the state of Hesse and Sanofi-Aventis Deutschland GmbH. Since 1999, we have been supporting early-stage and start-up companies in the healthcare sector with capital, network and know-how. The company is based in Frankfurt and we invest in our region, but also in Germany and Europe.
Future Capital AG
Hanauer Landstr. 291B
60314 Frankfurt am Main
Tel: +49 (0)69 7104 75150
Ascenion GmbH (www.ascenion.de) is an independent technology transfer company with special expertise in the life sciences. It is a partner of more than 30 research institutions, universities and university hospitals in Germany and Europe. Its particular strengths are the support of spin-offs and project development. As a technology transfer partner of the BIH and the Charité, Ascenion has accompanied the founders and scientists and contributed to the spin-off together with the BIH Digital Health Accelerator. In close cooperation with the BIH, Ascenion supported the negotiation of essential contracts on the way to the foundation and financing.
Tel: +49 (0)89 3188140
About the IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft:
The IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft (www.ibb-bet.de) provides venture capital to innovative Berlin-based companies and has established itself as the market leader in early stage financing in Berlin. The funds are primarily used for the development and market launch of innovative products or services as well as for business concepts of the creative industries. Since March 2015 two funds managed by IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft are in the investment phase, the VC Fonds Technologie Berlin II with a fund volume of EUR 60 million and the VC Fonds Kreativwirtschaft Berlin II with a fund volume of EUR 40 million. Both VC funds are financed by funds of the Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB) and the European Fund for Regional Development (EFRE), managed by the State of Berlin. Since 1997, IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft has provided approximately EUR 1.52 billion to over 210 Berlin creative and technology companies in consortia with partners, of which IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft has invested EUR 217 million as lead, co-lead or co-investor.
IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft mbH
Tel: +49 (0)30 2125 3201