Startup of the Day: Polish medtech BioCam

BioCam is a Wrocław-based startup in the field of AI and telemedicine founded by Maciej Wysocki, Jakub Niemczuk, and Robert Stachursk. BioCam develops an endoscopic capsule for imaging the digestive system along with AI-powered software for automatic detection of potential threats. The company’s team aims to popularize capsule endoscopy as a patient friendly remote examination for the whole gastrointestinal tract and be the gold standard for screening programs.

In the Startup of the Day column, Maciej Wysocki, co-founder of BioCam, shares more details about the startup’s idea, its product, and future plans.

Tell us about your startup. How does it work?

BioCam designs and manufactures an endoscopic capsule for imaging the digestive system along with AI-powered software for automatic detection of potential threats. Our goal is to reduce the cost of gastrointestinal examinations, increase patient comfort, and popularize capsule endoscopy, a low-invasive, patient-friendly alternative to gastroscopy and colonoscopy, as well as cancer and gastrointestinal screening programs. BioCam’s AI software helps to reduce the time needed for the digestive system analysis by a doctor by 90% – from a few hours to even 20–30 minutes.

We want to deliver a unique and effective system for the assessment of the status of the gastrointestinal system and automatic evaluation of the images for the selection of those containing abnormalities that should be assessed by the physician. The method will constitute a groundbreaking advance over the gastrointestinal diagnosis procedures used routinely and over the more innovative endoscopic capsule systems.

The company also plans to open the diagnostics of our four-legged friends, and it is worth emphasizing the lack of regulations regarding medical devices on the veterinary market.

How did you come up with the startup’s idea? What was the reason/motivation behind it?

The last World Cancer Statistics showed that colorectal cancer has become the deadliest cancer in men aged 20–49 years. More than 71% of all cancers of the digestive system are diagnosed in the last 2 stages of development, when treatment is no longer possible and that simple means a death sentence. This all leads to our mission behind the BioCam.

With this system, we want to revolutionize the way capsule endoscopy is performed today and make it the product of choice over traditional procedures and existing endoscopic capsules as an easy-to-use, noninvasive, AI-supported medical device for the effective diagnosis of gastrointestinal diseases.

Our ultimate ambition is to deliver a new endoscopic capsule-based system for gastrointestinal observation and diagnosis of abnormalities and diseases that is safe and noninvasive, capable of registering/capturing the whole gastrointestinal tract, that can be easily used by patients at home.

How long did it take to reach the prototype or MVP? What did you encounter?

We have developed our own advanced technology platform (hardware + software) and an advanced image analysis system based on AI algorithms. Currently, we are implementing a research and development grant, scheduled to end with the commercialization process and adapting our technology platform to completely remote examinations.

Last year, we have been working on pioneering algorithms for augmentation and morphing – generating images and fusing elements into them based on real data. It is a form of synthetic data, not generated in 3D by graphics cards as in competing solutions, but based on fragments of real images, which then translates into a much higher efficiency of machine learning and interpolation of classes with pathological changes.

When exactly did you launch your product? Or when the launch is planned?

We are in the middle of process of adaptation of our technology to completely remote examinations, medical experiments on the patients and preparation for medical certification. We have plans to obtain CE mark in early 2024 and FDA year later. The year 2024 is also the date of the planned commercialization of the capsule for large dogs and cats.

Tell us about the startup’s business model. How do you monetize your product?

Our business model is technology licensing to corporations from the medical devices, pharmaceutical, consumer electronics, and insurance industry. This allows us to use their sales, distribution and marketing channels as well as brand awareness.

However, we do not close ourselves to large distribution contracts with a network of clinics and medical facilities.

What are your target markets and consumers?

Capsule endoscopy market is still small, but we aim to be a part of the global market of endoscopy as well as market of treatment of gastrointestinal cancers because we can detect pathologies in the early stage.

What about your team? How many people are working in the startup? If you’re looking for new employees, indicate whom exactly.

Biocam’s team counts over 50 people – experts in the field of microelectronics, optics, machine learning, medicine, and business. What is important to emphasize – more than 20 people from our team consist of doctors.

As a company, we do not look at gender in the HR process, that’s why approximately 40% of our employment is women. In the team we also have engineers from Ukraine and Belarus.

Have you already raised any investments? Provide us with more details on each funding round: the amount, investors, the purpose of the investment.

BioCam has already received three investments.

  • In 2020, the LT Capital fund invested in us in the amount of €250,000 in the pre-seed round.
  • In 2021, we had a small bridge round with a private investor for €100,000 and with a well-known entrepreneur and business angel, Dawid Urban, who invested €440,000 in us. Dawid Urban’s investment was used as our own contribution to the implementation of the grant received from the National Center for Research and Development for adapting our technology to completely remote research, including in pandemic conditions. The grant is worth over €1.2 million.
  • Just a few months ago, we received €440,000 in a seed round from Level2 Ventures.

What’s next? Tell us about your future plans.

Biocam’s technology platform gives us independence and the possibility to put in inside the capsule new sensors and develop in the future new RnD projects like:

  • Biopsy — taking specimens for histopathological examinations
  • NBI (Narrow Band Imaging) — LED light emitters and selective light detectors in the UV-NIR range
  • Measurement of physiological parameters (e.g., temperature, pH, pressure difference, conductivity)
  • Precise local release of drugs and substances in the digestive system and potential anticancer therapies
  • Gastrointestinal-directed vaccines — the natural epitope presentation pathway via gastrointestinal lymphatics is utilized, hence the entire immunological response is achieved
  • Technology adaptation to examination of animals such as dogs, cats and horses
  • Usage in the pharmaceutical industry to analyze the side effects of drugs/supplements or therapies
  • Magnetic field navigation