Why We’re Investing in AI for Healthcare

msinger /  Feb. 23, 2017


University of Washington startup KenSci recently announced its $8.5M Series A financing and Osage University Partners is proud to have participated in the round alongside Ignition Partners. This is our 64th investment in a university spinout since our founding in 2009.

Based on four years of research at the University of Washington, KenSci is a machine learning platform that helps health systems predict who might get sick, how sick they might get, what can be done about it, and how care can be optimized for cost and outcome. It is the latest addition to OUP’s strong portfolio of companies that are finding new ways to bring machine learning and AI to the marketplace, such as AlgorithmiaClarifai, and BodyLabs. KenSci also fits with our active investment interest in healthcare analytics (i.e. Picwell).

The combination of machine learning and healthcare analytics shows tremendous promise as the nation’s $3 trillion healthcare delivery system gradually transitions from volume-based to value-based care. At OUP, we have seen how the hospital systems at our partner universities have endeavored to combine clinical data with deep analytics to improve the quality of patient care, reduce readmissions, and operate with a more preventative mindset. Given these efforts, OUP has actively searched for analytics-based investment opportunities within our partner universities’ healthcare delivery networks. While many providers have developed valuable data-driven protocols and interesting insights that improve healthcare delivery, OUP had struggled to find many fully developed health analytic solutions such as KenSci that can compete in a broader marketplace outside the originating university’s healthcare system.

The effectiveness of any machine-learning solution is only as good as its training data, and KenSci has trained its models on over 110 million records. The company has now validated its technology across a wide range of healthcare applications, having signed some of the largest health systems in the US, Europe and Asia as customers in its first year since spinning out of UW. It is rare to see such quick commercial traction in healthcare technology segment, and even rarer to see such rapid deployment times and quick ROIs for customers. This is a testament to the quality of the team, technology, and market relevance.

“It is always a challenge to transfer academic research in to a commercial business.” says Dr. Ankur Teredesai, professor of Data Science at UW and co-founder at KenSci. “We are fortunate to have the support of University of Washington’s innovation ecosystem and the guidance of Osage University Partners as we look to fight Death with Data Science.”

Osage is pleased to be an investor in KenSci. If the company’s future is anything like its past, it has a tremendous amount of promise ahead.