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Sunday, Feb 25, 2024

Valley Tech on Display

SoCalBio’s Digital Health Conference hosted biotech companies and venture capital firms from around the globe, including some from the San Fernando Valley region. The all-day event included a presentation from Woodland Hills’ Eyenuk, an AI platform specializing in diabetic retinopathy, and Medtronic’s diabetes technology division in Northridge, developer of the Minimed insulin pump. Ayman Salem, chief executive of iKioo in Burbank also discussed how digital innovations like his company’s blockchain technology is being adopted by health care providers, alongside Cedars-Sinai Chief Executive Tom Priselac and Dr. Prash Jayaraj, a cardiologist with Adventist Health. First up was Frank Cheng, chief commercial officer for Eyenuk, who led the Valley company’s presentation. Eyenuk is currently seeking $30 million in Series A financing, Cheng said. EyeArt, the company’s flagship AI technology, has been tested as part of more than 500 million patient exams globally and used in 2 million-plus retinal images to scan for diabetic retinopathy. The $30 million will fund the launch and commercialization of EyeArt in the U.S.; realize global commercial expansion, specifically to Europe and the Middle East; and bring new indications for screening, monitoring and longitudinal analysis with the company’s EyeSee and EyeMark products. “The company started in the Woodland Hills area about nine years ago. We have raised about $16 million at this point,” added Cheng. “We are really proud of what we have achieved in terms of how we’re separating from the rest of the crowd when it comes to AI for medical diagnostics.” Of the company’s $16 million raised so far, $8.5 million is from grant funding from the National Institutes of Health, and $7.3 is from angel investors. In a later presentation, Pratik Agrawal, director of data science and informatics innovation at Medtronic Diabetes, walked guests through the Dublin, Ireland company’s MiniMed 670G Insulin Pump and its analytics system, Guardian Connect. Agrawal went into detail about how Guardian Connect allows insulin pump users to monitor their glucose in real time to make adjustments, and go one step further to look at individual trends with Sugar.IQ, a personal assistant of sorts for the patient. “This data is, through a chip, communicated to an iPhone which then goes to the cloud,” added Agrawal. “This widget is simply putting the data together and showing them where they are in terms of diabetes management.” Other presenting companies at the conference included: Coala Life out of Sweden, which develops smart cardiac monitors; NoVaResp Technologies, a Canadian company focused on respiratory monitoring devices; BioStrap, a FitBit-esque monitoring device developer out of Duarte; Theseus AI near UCLA, which is developing machine learning to produce outcomes-based reporting on back pain treatment; and Montreal-based Hexoskin, which produces “smart garments” that act as health monitoring devices. The conference took place at Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica on Dec. 13. Dr. Emmanuel Fombu, digital health futurist and author, served as the event’s keynote speaker. Fombu spoke about how the Internet of Things, AI and machine learning will revolutionize the health care industry.

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