Paige, the Sloan-Kettering spinout that has been building an artificial intelligence platform to improve cancer pathology and subsequently use those insights to develop better drug therapies, has raised an additional $5 million in funding to continue its work commercialising its platform and expanding its research reach, while also getting FDA clearance to launch in hospitals in North America and Europe.
The round comes from Goldman Sachs, specifically its merchant banking division, and is an extension to the Series B of $45 million that Paige announced in December 2019 led by Breyer Capital at a valuation (per PitchBook) of about $208 million.
Leo Grady, Paige’s CEO, said that the startup has not been doing any COVID-19-related work — its focus is squarely on cancer research at the moment — but he also said that the recent health pandemic has shone a light on some of the shortcomings that existed in the medical world, an area that Paige is addressing in its work.
“We haven’t worked on COVID-19 related research specifically, but what we have seen is that CV19 has had a strong impact on the pathology community,” he said. “It has highlighted that they are unable to work remotely. The technology we have been building supports the pathology community’s ability to work safely and remotely, and can further accelerate their work through the use of AI technology. Because pathologists’ inability to work remotely is becoming more apparent, it is creating an urgency for going digital.”
Indeed, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has led to a big focus on the role that tech could play in addressing it and health crises in general, with answers coming in the form of using more AI in research and improving telemedicine and other remote health monitoring solutions, through to more basic things like using the financial resources and consumer reach of tech companies to get vital supplies and information to people who need them.
Paige falls generally into the first of these categories, and Grady said that the new cash is specifically strategic, given Goldman Sachs’ wider investment efforts in cancer research.
It has a very close relationship with the renowned cancer hospital and research center Memorial Sloan Kettering — which has meant it has had exclusive access to MSK’s 25 million pathology slides as well as its intellectual property related to the AI-based computational pathology, two key assets since the slides represent one of the biggest repositories of its kind in the world, and machine learning platforms are only as good as the data that’s fed into them. It recently also announced a deal with Invicro LLC, a subsidiary of Konica Minolta, to provide integrated pathology solutions for pharmaceutical and biotechnology sponsors running drug discovery and development initiatives.
“Goldman Sachs recognizes that we have an enormous opportunity, not only with our clinical-grade AI but also with the platform, and viewer, which has the ability to enable pathologists to work remotely,” he said, adding that although the startup is already well-capitalized, “the goal with this new influx of $5M is really to provide an extra push with product development as pathologist’s need to work remotely continues to grow. Additionally, the cancer networks Goldman Sachs have invested in and our ability to support those networks around the world with our technology, make this a great working relationship.”
Grady said that since announcing the Series B, Paige has added several beta sites that have completed a number of studies that will be publishing soon. “These beta studies really form the basis for validating the value proposition that our technology brings into the cancer and pathology workflow. This validation is instrumental in pushing the commercialization of our technology,” he said.
No plans right now for another round, he added.
David Castelblanco, an MD at the investment bank, is joining the board with this round. “Paige is transforming pathology and translational research in the cancer field and is working closely with biopharma companies to create custom diagnostic solutions and drug development technologies to improve patient care,” he said in a statement. “We look forward to supporting the Company’s important mission of improving cancer care through its AI technology.”
“Paige’s leadership is doing a fantastic job in building a stellar team and seizing opportunities in this exciting market,” added Jim Breyer, founder and CEO of Breyer Capital, also in a statement.