Ultrasound software spin-out to improve diagnosis, saving NHS millions

August 2, 2012 -

A new spin-out from the University of Oxford will improve the quality and diagnostic power of the most widely used diagnostic imaging tool, ultrasound imaging. Isis Innovation, the University’s technology transfer company announced today that Intelligent Ultrasound has raised £610,000 to develop software solutions to reduce the risk of incorrect or missed diagnoses and avoid costly, inconvenient rescans.

Andy Hill, CEO of Intelligent Ultrasound, said: “We expect this software will save the National Health Service in excess of £40 million pounds per year in cardiology diagnostics alone.”

Intelligent Ultrasound’s software solutions are based on research from the University of Oxford’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering by Professor Alison Noble and her team. The new company will be supported by the NHS National Innovation Centre, which is committed to accelerating the adoption of new technologies across the NHS.

There are over 200,000 ultrasound machines in use in the US and Europe and in the order of half as many again in the rest of the world. The wide range of applications where medical ultrasound is used includes antenatal scanning, diagnosis of disease and structural defects of the heart in cardiology, and ultrasound-guided surgery.

Professor Noble, the Technikos Professor of Biomedical Engineering, said: “We are combining conventional ultrasound scanning with advanced automated image analysis post-processing to improve the diagnostic quality of scans and ensure that the doctor has the best ultrasound-based information to make a clinical decision.

“It is perhaps the most exciting time in over 20 years to work in ultrasound research due to the rapid developments in 2D and 3D imaging. My laboratory at Oxford is responding to the clinical pull to dramatically reduce healthcare costs by using cost-effective technology such as ultrasound as an alternative to more costly MRI and CT scanning.”

The NHS National Innovation Centre has contributed a development award to the company’s fund raising, and nine angel investors, including company founders and the Oxford Invention Fund, have invested to bring the total raised to £610,000. The company expects to complete this current round of funding within a few months.

Colin Callow, Head of the NHS National Innovation Centre, said: “By creating the right environment and infrastructure for collaboration and partnership between industry, academia and the NHS, the National Innovation Centre can provide access to the expertise necessary to support the rapid development of exciting innovations so that they are truly ‘NHS Market ready’, identifying and solving adoption barriers both technical and organisational – before the product hits the market.

“As a co-founder and through this development award, the NHS National Innovation Centre can make it easier and quicker for great innovations like Intelligent Ultrasound’s technology to reach the service and improve patient care.”

Tom Hockaday, MD of Isis Innovation, which managed the spin-out process said, “This is a University technology which will have a positive impact for clinicians, patients, and the taxpayer, as well as investors.”

The first version of the Intelligent Ultrasound software for use in echocardiography is expected to be available for sale within six months. Further versions are being developed for stress- echocardiography, obstetrics and ultrasound-guided surgery.

CEO Andy Hill said: “We want to establish our ultrasound software as standard clinical practice and work with ultrasound manufacturers to encourage adoption of the technology worldwide.”

The company’s clinical lead is Dr Aris Papageorghiou, a consultant obstetrician at Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and an expert in the use of ultrasound to monitor fetal development.

For more information contact:

Renate Krelle Isis Innovation T: +44 01865 280850 renate.krelle@isis.ox.ac.uk

Andy Hill CEO, Intelligent Ultrasound T: +44 7540 746784 andy.hill@intelligentultrasound.com

Visit www.intelligentultrasound.com/ or follow the company on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/company/intelligent-ultrasound

About Isis Innovation

Isis Innovation is the research and technology commercialisation company of the University of Oxford. The Technology Transfer and Oxford University Consulting divisions provide access to technological developments and expertise from University of Oxford researchers, through intellectual property licensing, spin-out company formation, material sales and consulting.  Isis is the highest University patent filer in the UK, has attracted investment into over 65 spin-out companies since 2000, and in the last financial year provided expertise to over 150 clients in 22 countries. Through the Isis Enterprise division, Isis offers innovation management to university, government and industrial clients around the world. For updates on innovations from Oxford, follow Isis on LinkedIn and Twitter or subscribe at www.isis-innovation.com

About the NHS National Innovation Centre

Since 2006, the National Innovation Centre has worked nationally and internationally to provide vital support to innovators in industry, academia and the NHS, to speed up the development and diffusion of healthcare technology innovations.

For the development partnership with Intelligent Ultrasound, the NIC has taken a very different approach to supporting a company to speed up the development of the product and to ensure the realisation of benefits for patients and the NHS.

The approach will not only help speed up the development of the product by facilitating close collaboration with the NHS and identifying and solving adoption barriers both technical and organisational – but also provides an opportunity for a significant financial return on the funding award provided – which can then support the future development of other high impact innovations.

Find out more about the NHS National Innovation Centre, at www.nic.nhs.uk