Despite a number of preventive solutions for the early detection of breast cancer, one out of every two women diagnosed with breast cancer in India fail to make it. What’s more, only three percent go for regular breast health checkups in the absence of a non-invasive method of examination.
Geetha Manjunatha (CEO) and Nidhi Mathur (COO) founded Niramai, a ‘Non-Invasive Risk Assessment with Machine Intelligence’ solution for early detection of breast cancer that is safe, non-touch, radiation-free, and low-cost.
“Our method of breast cancer screening can detect tumors five times smaller than what clinical examination can detect. With our solution, women of all age groups can undergo frequent screening without any side-effects,” says Nidhi. Considering it is far less expensive and does not require heavy equipment, this solution is ideal for smaller towns where affordable healthcare is still a rarity.
Mammography works only for women over 40 and increasingly there has been a prevalence of breast cancer among young women, which makes a solution like this a welcome one.
Manish Singhal of Pi Ventures, who invested in a seed round in Niramai, tells YourStory that whenever he has spoken about the startup to doctors, the response has been very encouraging.
“They are solving a real problem in a unique way. Today, only the rich can afford to pay for quality healthcare and if technology can make that quality care accessible to everyone, then that is the best thing,” says Manish.
According to him, Pi Ventures took a bet on the two founders and dug deeper into their technology. “Though the thermal map reading has been available for some time, the reading had to be done manually and was not always accurate. With their AI and ML-based algorithms, Niramai has developed an accurate method to predict results,” he adds.
Niramai uses a high-resolution thermal sensing device that scans the chest area like a camera. It then uses cloud-hosted analytics solution for analysing the thermal images. Its SaaS solution uses big data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning for reliable, early and accurate breast cancer screening.
The innovative methods used in the solution have led to multiple US patents, and their novel algorithms have also been peer-reviewed in international scientific conferences.
The startup has already started two clinical trials with established hospitals. In April this year, Niramai had raised an undisclosed seed round from Pi Ventures, Axilor Ventures, 500 Startups, Ankur Capital, and Flipkart Co-founder Binny Bansal. Niramai was part of the summer batch of 2017 at Axilor Ventures.
Healthtech is the next frontier. And in India, there are a million problems waiting to be solved using technology. However, funding for healthtech startups slipped in H1 2017 raising just $219 million compared with $470 million in H1 2016.
According to a recent KPMG report, “Even though multiple advantages are provided by healthcare startups, they have not yet received a steady stream of funding to support their venture.”
The fact that there is a $30 billion opportunity in healthtech waiting to be taken up, it should be enough to drive both entrepreneurs and investors towards the sector. Startups like Niramai stand to gain hugely as does the Indian healthcare system.
Watch Nidhi talk about the unique problem they are solving specifically for India and other developing nations in the video below.