By Monika Ghosh and Sharon Lewis This article is the last of a four-part Tech’s Year in Review series reviewing developments across industries in 2020. It discusses the world of healthtech and biotech, foodtech and agritech, and sustainability. This article is the last of a four-part [...]
Tokyo-based healthtech startup Ubie aims to become a ‘search engine for healthcare’
Tokyo-based artificial intelligence (AI) healthtech startup Ubie has raised JPY 2 million (US$18.7 million) in a Series B round of financing, according to a statement released by the company yesterday.
The fresh funding was raised from Japanese pharmaceutical distributor Suzuken Co., who has also entered into a strategic partnership with Ubie, the statement said.
Founded in 2017 by Yoshinori Abe and Kota Kubo, the startup currently offers two medtech solutions based on AI, catering to workflow management in hospitals and personal health management for consumers.
The funding brings the startup’s total funding amount to almost US$30 million.
The statement noted that the funding will help Ubie scale its products, namely Ubie for Hospital, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for hospitals, and a more recently launched AI symptom checker Ubie which is geared to the consumer market.
Additionally, the company is also looking to expand its research and development capacity, and increase staffing for its sales and engineering teams, the statement noted. In the long term, Ubie is looking to eventually expand to the global market, it added.
Abe highlighted the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on global healthcare systems which are “on the verge of collapse.”
“During these uncertain times, our mission; ‘to develop a healthcare guide for everyone’ has never been more important… We are going to go full throttle to realize our company mission as soon as possible, with help from this fresh round of funding, and with the full support of all our stakeholders,” he said in the statement.
Ubie aims to create a “search engine for healthcare” to make healthcare accessible for all, Abe added. The startup’s AI-backed symptom checker application and clinical decision support technology, which have been in development since 2013, are part of the plan, he continued.
Kubo was “disappointed” that a lot of the technology used in Japan was not locally developed but sourced from companies outside of the Japan, he said in the statement.
“In the current coronavirus pandemic, new technologies are being utilized to stop the infection. However, many of the technologies and products that we use daily in Japan are developed by foreign tech companies,” Kubo said. “As a Japanese tech entrepreneur, this fact makes me disappointed and impatient.”
“The Covid-19 situation is still very unpredictable, but progress to this point continues to prove to the world that Japan’s healthcare system is effective and resilient… I am confident that “made-in-Japan” tech companies such as ourselves are capable of leading dramatic change in this space,” he continued.
The pandemic has asserted the need for smarter health technology that is ready to face health crises at the scale of the pandemic itself. Currently, healthcare worldwide is distressed because of the shortened turnaround time requirement for solutions and dearth in investments.
However, a shift in investor sentiment toward impact investing and businesses that solve a crucial problem, and increased attention to diagnostics and therapeutics in light of the pandemic, may change the tide overall for the industry.
At the same time, startups like Ubie have a fair number of competitors across the world offering similar services, such as Swedish company Doctrin and United Kingdom-based MedCircuit. The true test for this segment will be for startups to truly differentiate themselves in the market.
Header image courtesy of Ubie