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Credit: SGInnovate (from SGInnovate's LinkedIn page: www.linkedin.com/company/1059481/)

Credit: SGInnovate (from SGInnovate's LinkedIn page: www.linkedin.com/company/1059481/)

SGInnovate invests in MedTech startup using AI and robotics for more precise surgical procedures

SGInnovate [1] announced today that it has completed an investment in a Singapore-based startup called NDR Medical Technology(NDR), which combines Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics and computer vision for surgical procedures.

MedTech and AI are two of the three focus technology areas for SGInnovate during 2018, as part of its ‘Deep Tech Nexus’ Strategy. Through the strategy, SGInnovate aims to add tangible value to the Singapore deep tech startup ecosystem in two key areas – Human Capital and Investment Capital. SGInnovate has appointed 17 co-investors under the Startup SG Equity scheme. The total value for investments that would be made alongside these co-investors could potentially reach up to S$80 million over the next four years.

NDR is the first early-stage MedTech startup to receive SGInnovate’s direct investment. Preparatory work is going on for the system to go into pilot clinical trial and commercial application is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2020.

It has developed a proprietary smart robotic guiding system known as Automated Needle Targeting (ANT). The system uses AI and image processing to help surgeons visualise the 3D location of the target lesion in the patient’s body.

Conventional surgical control systems rely on electronic and mechanical sensors along with pre-programmed coordinates to perform lesion targeting. This often requires manual intervention by surgeons.

By combining the precision adjustment and guiding technology of ANT with the surgeon’s skill and dexterity, surgeons are now able to precisely target needle alignment and positioning to target lesions. It can achieve an accuracy of up to ±1mm.

AI-based algorithms allow the system to use training data to continually improve the accuracy of targeting lesions.

Over time, the system has the potential to significantly reduce the risks of surgery and shorten the learning curves for surgeons to perform advanced minimally invasive surgeries as compared to invasive surgeries using conventional procedural methods. Patients can also look forward to faster recovery times and lower risk of unwanted side-effects.

ANT will complement existing imaging modalities like C-Arm fluoroscopy, CT-scan and ultrasound. It can process 2D images to create 3D targets with precision in minimally invasive applications such as lesion biopsy and ablation treatment.

NDR is currently working on the deployment of ANT for CT scans and ultrasound imaging. The company plans to expand the use of ANT into other medical applications such as orthopaedics and anaesthesia in the near future.

Steve Leonard, Founding CEO, SGInnovate, said, “A system that brings AI and a high-precision surgical tool together is a powerful combination. Doctors have told us this system can raise the efficacy of surgical procedures to improve the clinical outcomes and lives of patients. In addition, the underlying technology NDR has built can be applied in other industries. As SGInnovate, our mission is to enable deep tech startups to build from Singapore for the world.”

“We would like to thank SGInnovate for believing in NDR’s pursuit in AI Robotics. Surgeries will be automated in the foreseeable future, and data is the key to this medical advancement. With our AI-driven robotics system, surgical procedures will be more precise and surgeons will enjoy greater productivity in the operating theatre.” said Alan Goh, co-founder and CEO, NDR Medical Technology.

[1] SGInnovate is a private limited company wholly owned by the Singapore Government, to support and develop the deep tech startup ecosystem in Singapore. It does so by investing in deep tech startups, helping them source talent and finding early adopter customers for them. 

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