As the society ages, demantia, a disease more common in people over the age of 65, has become a major concern for Taiwan. Some ten thousand new cases will be added to the growing dementia population every year, as the government forecasts. Clinical care provided to people with such illness is thus set as one of the priorities in the latest policy of long term care and great efforts have been paid to build an environment friendly to this population.
In 2018, Tseng Wen-yih, professor of the medical college at National Taiwan University, founded AcroViz to "analyze brain neuroimages to predict brain health." Targeting the population aging over 45, the startup develops the technology that provides accurate and objective assessment of brain health to identify potentials patients of demantia.
Based in Taiwan, it hopes to go global to create positive impact on the society. It's currently seeking Series A round funding.
The first mover
Seven years ago, Tseng had been funded by the government to research into the integration of brain image processing software and hardware. His team developed the software to be implemented in procured hardware and gave birth to a new-generation MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) system, whose technical research paper was published on Science.
It was until the end of 2017 did he decide to transfer the technology and launch the startup. Based on the technology of diffusion spectrum imaging, the team implements machine learning algorithms to enable fiber tractography, which delineates non-invasively the white matter fiber pathways and assesses the health of the brain. The analysis of clinical data can also help predict the probability of conversion from MCI (mild cognitive impairment) to dementia and how the disease is likely to develop over time.
Tseng believes research should not only be published in journals but support product development to "make people feel the value of scientific applications." This way, researchers can also ensure what they study remains relevant to the technology trends.
CTO Hsu Yung-Chin, Tseng's student at the college, said AcroViz has a fully independent R&D team, making the company the first mover to introduce fiber tractography to the market and raise practical possibilities in the field of medical diagnosis.
Following the B2B2C business model, AcroViz provides medical analysis reports for patients from establishments. Besides the advice for patients themselves, the content includes information that helps doctors assess a patient's condition and track treatment response. The startup also plans to help them with diagnosing and predicting the risk of MCI.
The startup is partnering with several healthcare centers by offering monthly subscription of their system. Meanwhile, it's expected to apply for FDA and CE approval to expand into overseas markets.