GE to accelerate commercialization of AI innovations
April 29, 2022
GE Healthcare has announced the launch of an artificial intelligence (AI) accelerator program targeting mature Canadian start-ups with innovative solutions for the healthcare industry.
The program will help qualifying start-ups bring their solutions to market through GE’s Edison Digital Health Platform, a marketplace like the iOS App Store or its Android equivalent that will put hundreds of clinical, workflow, analytics and AI tools at the fingertips of clinicians around the world.
Canada was selected because of this country’s “impressive ecosystem of healthcare start-ups,” said Heather Chalmers, president and CEO of GE Canada. “We’re not lacking in talent. We’re not lacking in passion. What we are lacking is the last mile scale-up and adoption in the Canadian healthcare system. The Edison Accelerator program will help bridge that gap so Canadians can benefit from the talent that we’ve incubated.”
Similar accelerator programs have been launched by GE Healthcare in India, Europe and China.
Chalmers is confident that the Edison AI Accelerator and Digital Health Platform will help ease the pressure on our healthcare resources and elevate the performance of a healthcare system that has been under strain due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
GE Healthcare has engaged California-based Nex Cubed, an early-stage innovation and start-up acceleration company to recruit and work with six Canadian start-ups. Using their own expertise and through partnerships with venture capital companies, Nex Cubed innovates, invests in, accelerates and scales up emerging tech companies.
“We’re looking for more mature start-ups,” said Marlon Evans, CEO of Nex Cubed. “They have a product. They have traction. They’re in the market and able to use this program to train their AI algorithms or get connected to potential customers. They have to be pretty far along to make the most of the program. They’ll need more than an idea on a PowerPoint.”
The coaching and mentorship will help groom the start-ups for working with a big corporation, said Evans, because “oftentimes, start-ups are left to their own devices to figure out how to connect with a company like GE. This program will help them refine their products, structure their teams and provide them with the support they need to go to market.”
Additionally, “start-ups are in many cases technology-rich, but data poor, so this program will help them plug into GE resources to train their algorithms and show they are able to work at scale,” he said.
During the program, start-ups will test their solutions on the Edison platform; they will conclude with a Demo Day event at which the start-ups will present to investors and potential commercial partners. If their applications qualify for inclusion in the Edison Digital Health Platform, GE will help them with any required regulatory approvals and guide them through an onboarding process.
Paritash Dhawale, senior vice-president and general manager of GE Healthcare’s Edison Digital Health Platform, said, “We realize that a good bit of healthcare innovation is going to come from smart minds outside of GE.” So, like the iOS App Store or the Android application marketplace, the Edison Digital Health Platform will rely on a large third-party ecosystem to supplement GE’s own applications.
AI apps could help radiologists glean insights into clinical data, zero in on suspicious breast lesions, identify and prioritize X-ray images of collapsed lungs or COVID-19 induced pneumonia. They may aid in the diagnosis of prostate cancer, contribute to digital pathology or maximize the asset utilization of a hospital’s imaging devices.
Inclusion in the Edison platform will expose start-ups to a global market. “GE is in 160 countries. We have 10,000+ salespeople all over the world. We have 16,000 service professionals and access to thousands of hospitals,” remarked Dhawale. “Technology is only one piece that start-ups think of, but just as important is how you reach a diverse set of customers. Once you’re on the GE platform, you get access to all of that.”
The Edison platform also offers several advantages for hospitals because acquiring, installing and managing applications from multiple third-party sources imposes a heavy burden on hospital administrators, clinicians and IT staff, noted Dhawale.
In the traditional procurement model, hospital staff might spend several months carrying out due diligence, checking references, attending presentations, assessing security and privacy and provisioning space on the hospital data centre, “but if they’re on the Edison platform, GE does most of that work for you,” he said.
For Heather Chalmers, it’s the Edison Digital Health Platform that accounts for the uniqueness of the Edison AI accelerator program. “Other accelerators,” she notes, “focus on helping to incubate ideas into something that can scale up. There’s an element of that in what we’re doing as well with the coaching and mentoring through Nex Cubed, but we go much further by also providing start-ups with a platform through which they’re able to access a global market.”
A call for expressions of interest in the GE Healthcare accelerator was issued in April and the coaching and mentorship engagement with Nex Cubed is scheduled to commence in July. Please visit https://wwwnex3.com/ge-healthcare-edison-accelerator to apply.