Israel-based Aspect Imaging announced a $20 million funding on Thursday, bringing the company’s total haul to $120 million. The money will go toward expanding their line of miniature MRI machines designed to avoid reliance on larger, full-body tools.
“The new funding is utilized in commercializing our existing products, expanding our market reach, and finalizing the work on our new and innovative Head MRI system for the Emergency Room and stroke centers,” an Aspect Imaging spokesperson told Geektime.
They have eight products so far focusing on different parts of the body, including the Embrace™ Neonatal MRI system and the WristView. Through their FlowScan platform for the agriculture and biofuel industries, they also provide industrial MRI scanning and are working on an FT-NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) that will be able to “analyze opaque materials for online and bench-top measurement and real-time analysis of liquid composition,” a common practice in the crude oil business.
“When calculating total cost of ownership over 4-5 years, the cost of our systems are about 20% of the cost of a conventional system,” the company claimed in an email exchange with Geektime. A full-body MRI machine runs in the neighborhood of $1.2 million, far north of Aspect Imaging’s catalog. The WristView for instance costs $345,000 while a preclinical compact MRI starts at $290,000. The as-yet released neonatal unit is not priced yet. State of the art machines might go for as much as $3 million. “The WristView has only recently been launched in Europe and we have already received more inquiries than expected, and we are sure that it will be the most popular of our systems,” they said to Geektime.
“The imaging acquisition times are comparable to conventional high field systems, as is our image quality,” a spokesperson told Geektime. Their imaging power is measured in units called teslas. Aspect Imaging’s products run with imaging power of one tesla, a unit used to measure the strength of magnetic resonance. The strongest machines in the industry might run at about three teslas, but low-quality, full-body systems might operate between .2 and .3 teslas, according to TIME.
There is a lot that can be done in terms of business for MRIs. They are an always in-demand service that sometimes keep patients waiting for months depending on their health plans. The market for MRI systems is already worth some $5.61 billion, but could go up to $7.19 billion by 2021 according to Markets and Markets.
The startup world is breaking into the field, ranging from innovative machines like Aspect’s to new software and rendering tools to extract data from current MRI models. French company Pixyl wants to pinpoint more detail in brain scans, while Israeli ElMindA renders neural data into 3D maps of your brain. The Butterfly Network has raised $100 million to integrate AI into MRI diagnostics, while yet another company, Vayyar, is trying to build an upgraded imaging technology to augment MRIs.
For now, scaling down the MRI to more manageable machines is the name of the game for Aspect. These are supposedly the tip of the iceberg for the company, as they plan to move to more sophisticated products that require more oversight.
“This market requires a simpler certification process, and for this reason we began small to ensure that what we know can be applied accurately and consistently,” they explained to us.
The company is based in Shoham, Israel just outside Tel Aviv and has 100 full-time employees. Aspect Imaging is owned and operated by founder and CEO Uri Rapoport, Stewart Resnick, and Eri Steimatzky (the same one who built and sold the Steimatzky book chain).