Leuven digital healthcare startup Lynxcare raises € 20 million, the highest amount ever in the Belgian medical technology sector. The company collaborates with major pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca and J&J, but wants to use the fresh money to accelerate its international rollout by hiring 15 people.
Sharon is an American whose son has suffered from a rare disease since birth. Years of research by countless doctors and hospitals resulted in a file of thousands of pages thick. The lack of overview in this meant that the redemptive treatment of the boy was delayed for many years. That got the young pharmacist and lawyer Georges De Feu, who is friends with Sharon and the boy’s doctor, thinking. Together with doctor Dries Hens, he founded Lynxcare in 2015.
The start-up triggers artificial intelligence and language technology on patient records, which have been stored digitally in Belgian hospitals for 15 years. ’90 percent of that data is not used, while it can help individual patient care and scientific research tremendously, ‘says De Feu.
The ideas and the start-up of De Feu and Hens attracted the interest of several international and Belgian funds, which are now investing 20 million euros in Lynxcare. It’s the largest amount ever in Belgium for a healthcare technology company. The Swiss MTIP is at the forefront, complemented by the French Elaia, the German BTOV and the Belgian foundations Participatiemaatschappij Vlaanderen (PMV) and Heran.
Heran is the fund for medical heavyweights Herman Verrelst, the first CEO of Biocartis, and Annie Vereecken, who earned a fortune with her laboratory group Medhold. Heran has already invested in Icometrix, also Leuven, and in Bluebee, which has since been sold to the American mastodon in DNA sequencing Illumina.
Lynxcare’s technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) to convert unstructured patient records into a searchable database. According to De Feu, his company has managed to achieve the high reliability required for critical medical conclusions. ‘Our AI algorithm has been thoroughly tested in peer reviews with publications in scientific journals. It shows that we – at the population level, ie not at the level of a single patient – achieve the same accuracy as a doctor. ‘
Lynxcare can already credit several concrete breakthroughs in hospitals. At UZ Leuven, for example, they were already working on files of patients with a rare neurological disorder that were recognized by the software from a larger population.† “They are currently undergoing genetic testing so we may be able to give them life-saving treatment.”
Lynxcare is also collaborating with EHDEN, a European project that makes health data more accessible to scientific research. “With data, for example, it has revealed that chloroquine does not work against Covid-19,” says De Feu. Other pilot projects are underway in UZ Antwerp, Groningen, France and the USA.
Our AI algorithm has been thoroughly tested with publications in scientific journals. This shows that we achieve the same accuracy as a doctor with our software.
With the 20 million euros in fresh capital, De Feu wants to meet the many questions he gets in connection with the delivery of the software. ‘We are going to invest fully in recruitment. If we just hire the necessary staff to fill the contracts we are winning now, we will need 15 more people. By the end of this year, we will have 50 employees. Last week, we signed an international mega contract worth 1 million euros. And thanks to our collaboration with the French company PSIH, which provides digital services to the medical sector, we are at one thousand French hospitals at once. ‘
Lynxcare also has collaborative projects underway with major pharmaceutical companies such as AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, however, under the strict conditions of privacy protection and GDPR.