SOUTH AFRICA – Vitruvian Medical Diagnostics, a South African e-health startup, has raised an upwards of US$659,000 (ZAR10 million) to ramp up its technology and launch more pilots.

Founded last year, VitruvianMD combines biomedical engineering and state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver affordable, high-accuracy diagnostic tools for medical laboratories, with a particular focus on servicing emerging markets.

“The core of our business is delivering AI-powered diagnostic software into under-resourced areas, and to date we have built a platform that enables this in various fields of pathology. To further facilitate access, we have also developed a low-cost, high quality camera that can retrofit any microscope instantly enabling digital tele-pathology,” Ifthakaar Shaik, VitruvianMD’s co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO), said.

Our platform is robust enough to be utilized in any form of microscopy-based diagnostics, and is proved by our pilots in hematology, histopathology, fertility and parasitology.”

VitruvianMD’s eight-figure ZAR funding round was led by the Singapore-based Verge Healthtech Fund and also features a host of angel investors.

It will be used to accelerate the development of the startup’s technology and to fund the roll-out of additional pilots.

With this funding, the goal is to reach commercialization of at least one of our diagnostic modules within the next 18 months,” Shaik said.

The African e-health space is one of few that, short term at least, actually may stand to benefit from the global COVID-19 crisis. Yet whether the sector has the ability to prosper in a post-coronavirus world remains debatable.

In this time of continental healthcare crisis, and forced behavioural change, Africa’s e-health startups have been forced to prove they have what it takes to fill gaps in service delivery.

Just like VitruvianMD, a host of healthcare-focused startups across the continent have reacted by reformatting existing services or launching new ones, such as Kenya’s Ilara Health, Cameroon’s OuiCare, and Ghana’s Redbird.

COVID-19 is also spurring uptake of e-health solutions, as patients are asked to stay home and, understandably, are worried to go to their local, crowded health facility.

According to MarketWatch, with a CAGR of 8.8% in the forecast period of 2021 to 2025, eHealth Market Size is expected to reach US$227,460 million by 2025, from US$162,390 million in 2019.

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