Israeli startup Healthy.io, a maker of an FDA-approved smartphone app that allows users to take urine analysis tests at home, has acquired US competitor inui Health for $9 million to “cement its leading position in the market” and increase its presence in the US.
In a blog post announcing the acquisition, Yonatan Adiri, the founder and CEO of the Tel Aviv-based firm, said that six years after its founding, the “Middle Eastern ‘Technology Camel’ is acquiring “a company from the valley of unicorns,” referring to Silicon-Valley based inui Health.
“inui Health has been working towards the same vision, back when routine home urine testing sounded crazy,” Adiri wrote. “Integrating the IP and know-how of the only other company to receive a Class II FDA clearance in our field will cement our leading position in the market, and will help us accelerate our ability to serve US patients.”
Healthy.io uses image recognition and artificial intelligence technologies to transform a smartphone camera into a scanner, to analyze urine test strips with clinical-grade precision. The firm was the first in the world to win US Food and Drug Administration approval for a smartphone camera used as a medical device that compares with a lab scanner.
Urine is the second most frequently conducted diagnostic test in the world. People around the world who need to get their urine tested — among which are pregnant women, diabetics and people with high blood pressure — generally need to go to a lab, pee in a cup, and hand in the sample to a nurse. The nurse dips a stick into the urine and scans it in a designated device that performs the analysis. The results are provided hours later to the doctor or the patient.
“This way of central testing is inefficient, it limits access and hinders the adoption of preventive care,” Healthy.io says. Now, with the “selfie” camera technology developed by the startup, the same test can be conducted at home, with lab scanner precision. Users pee in a cup provided by a Healthy.io kit, dip a stick into it, and use the smartphone camera to scan the results.
The company’s technology has received a boost from the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to a surge in the use of telemedicine and digital technologies as people under lockdown are told to maintain social distancing.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic now accelerates the decentralization of our healthcare system, we are resolved to work harder in expanding the new clinical reality we introduced and bring the medical selfie to a growing number of patients, faster,” Adiri wrote.
Healthy.io technology serves 150,000 paying customers worldwide, Adiri said, and the product is now on the shelves of 1,300 Boots stores across the UK. The firm also has partnerships with health providers globally, including the National Health Service England, Geisinger Health in the US, and HMOs covering nearly 10,000,000 people, he said.
The Israeli startup, set up in 2014 by Adiri and Shachar Mendelowitz, has raised to date some $90 million from investors including Aleph VC, Samsung NEXT Tel Aviv, Joy Capital and Corner Ventures, according to Start-Up Nation Central database.