Flywheel spins up $54m funding for its medical AI platform


Flywheel has raised $54 million in a new funding round that will be used to develop its platform to apply artificial intelligence to the interpretation of medical imaging data.

The Series D, led by Novalis LifeSciences and NVIDIA’s venture capital arm NVentures, will help the company grow its position in its two main markets – pharma companies and public sector healthcare – as well as expand into new areas, including “providers, payers, system integrators, and software companies.”

“With this funding, Flywheel will help more researchers turn imaging into analysis-ready datasets, accelerating drug development and improving outcomes,” said the company.

As a result of the round, Novalis founder and former Bayer and Thermo Fisher chief executive Marijn Dekkers will join the board of directors at the Minneapolis-based medtech, which was founded in 2015.

At the heart of its business is Flywheel Enterprise, a machine learning and cloud data management platform used to capture medical images and curate the results into databases that multiple users can use and share, with AI algorithms used to interpret results.

The system includes Flywheel Discovery, a web-based data mining and analytics environment for indexing and cataloguing imaging archives, and Flywheel Exchange, which is a curated library of ready-to-use datasets.

The $54 million raise follows a $27.5 million Series C in 2021 that was used to buy Radiologics, a provider of software and services for imaging-based clinical trial workflows, and a $16 million second-round earlier in the same year. It has raised a total of around $110 million to date.

“We are excited to lead this financing round at Flywheel,” said Dekkers. “We believe Flywheel’s unique software solutions enable the smarter use and interpretation of the vast amounts of information associated with large numbers of medical imaging scans.”

He went on to say that there is great potential for these tools to drive more efficient and faster drug development processes in the biopharma industry.

Medical imaging is a pillar of disease detection, particularly for cancer and cardiovascular diseases, but rising demand driven by ageing populations and changing lifestyles – combined with a shortage of radiologists – is placing pressure on health services around the world.

That pressure can lead to diagnostic errors, with a 2018 study suggesting that there are 40 million errors involving imaging worldwide every year.

Market research has suggested that the AI-based medical imaging market will rise from a value of around $400 million in 2021 to $1.36 billion in 2026.

Microsoft also participated in Flywheel’s latest round, along with Invenshure, 8VC, Beringea, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Intuitive Ventures, iSelect, Gundersen Health System, Seraph, and Great North Ventures.