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HeartLab raises NZ$3.5m to bring AI-powered software to US

HeartLab raises NZ$3.5m to bring its AI-powered heart scanning software to the US

Medtech startup HeartLab has today announced $3.5m has been raised through a funding round led by Silicon Valley’s Founders Fund that will supercharge its entry into the US market early next year.

Others contributing to the oversubscribed round include investment Icehouse Ventures, Outset Ventures. And Dylan Field, the CEO of Figma, a design platform valued at US$10 billion, participated as a private investor.

HeartLab’s AI-powered heart scanning and reporting platform is currently being trialed by cardiologists and sonographers at four different sites in New Zealand to help gauge heart health.

The platform streamlines workflow by sorting and analysing ultrasound images, unlocking new information for analysis, automating repetitive and time-consuming measurement tasks, and generating patient reports for doctors to finalise and forward to patients.

The funds will be used to hire more tech talent and ramp up sales in the US, where there is a US$1.5 billion market for AI-powered tools aimed at assisting the country’s 34,000 cardiologists to conquer the world’s number one killer disease.

America loses someone to heart disease every 36 seconds. Globally, 18 million people die every year from heart disease, accounting for around a third of deaths worldwide.

HeartLab is already fielding interest from several US clinics, and anticipates regulatory approval from the country’s Food and Drug Administration to be granted for its platform, called Pulse, in the first quarter of next year.

The company plans to hire ten new staff within the next six months. They will join its 13-strong team based in central Auckland who’ve held previous roles in medicine, science, and software engineering for companies like NASA, Formula car racing, and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare.

Founder Will Hewitt, who teamed up with cardiologist and cardiac imaging specialist Dr Patrick A. Gladding to form HeartLab three years ago at the age of 18, says he’s proud of what the team has achieved to date.

“We set out to design what cardiology looks like in the future and the response from early trials shows this future is needed right now,” says Hewitt. “Feedback from cardiologists has been super positive - they love how Pulse goes beyond analysing heart data and fits in with their workflow, so they can complete their interpretation of the patient's heart health via the reporting tool.

“Coming to work every day fueled with a purpose to improve the quality of lives for millions of people across the globe is hugely rewarding, and it is really pleasing to see how our platform has evolved within the past year.”

He says the team is proud to be backed by top pedigree investors at this early stage of HeartLab’s growth. Silicon Valley-based Founders Fund has been an early investor in companies like SpaceX, Stripe, AirBnB and Spotify.

Founders Fund Partner Scott Nolan, who has led investment rounds for three other New Zealand startups, says: “The use of AI in medicine is reducing pressures on health systems and ultimately saving lives. The HeartLab team has built a really compelling AI-powered platform that doctors love to use. We’re impressed with the progress they’ve made since we first backed HeartLab a year ago and we are excited to continue to support them throughout this next phase of growth.”

Icehouse Ventures CEO Robbie Paul, who introduced Will to Founders Fund and Scott Nolan through an ‘office hours’ session offered to some of its young portfolio startups, says “Will exemplifies what we look for in founders. He’s tenacious, personable, bright, and dedicated to solving an important problem. It’s hard not to get excited when you come across a founder like him.”

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