Medical imaging technologies allow specialists to look inside the human body in order to diagnose or monitor certain conditions. Various methods enable the visualization of specific parts of our bodies. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is one of the most versatile methods as it is able to be used in a wide range of medical diagnoses. MRIs are popularly used for looking inside the human brain.

The Eindhoven based start-up Advantis introduced a new software technology which improves brain MRI analysis. By merging it with cloud technology, their innovative program – Brainance MD® – makes brain images more accessible, user-friendly and data-driven. Brainance targets three different brain MRI examinations and provides a highly advanced browser-based software environment with state-of-the-art scientific methodologies. It also combines highly reliable results with an intuitive user interface. 

Brainance software is being offered to healthcare organisations.

Innovation Origins talked with Paris Ziogkas, Co-Founder and COO of the Dutch start-up.

What motivated the development of Advantis?

We identified early on that healthcare professionals have a strong need for more data-oriented, reliable, accessible and user-friendly neuroimaging software tools which can assist them in achieving an early and accurate diagnosis of severe brain pathologies. As part of their daily work, physicians spend critical amounts of time analyzing medical images. In some cases, they may even be misled by less reliable applications which might even lack useful processing features and connections.

Subsequently, Advantis was founded after several years of research in the field of neuroimaging and especially in the domain of fiber tracking, which is 3D reconstruction of nerve fibers of the human brain. On top of that, through constant interaction with physicians such as neuroradiologists and neurosurgeons, we gathered the right kind of user input for the expansion of the software to further enhance brain MRI sequences and processing connections. As a result, Brainance MD®, in its current version, is a cloud-based and all-in-one neuroimaging platform that can be used for the visualization and processing of multiple brain MRI sequences: Diffusion Tensor Imaging, DSC Perfusion, task-based and resting state Functional MRI.

What is the importance of Advantis?

Well, we would like to improve the sensitivity and efficiency of diagnoses of severe human pathologies such as Brain tumors, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis and ALS. Our company helps to make advanced medical imaging more accessible, data-driven and affordable for the entire healthcare ecosystem no matter the size or type of each organization. Now small and medium healthcare organizations such as diagnostic centers and smaller-sized clinics can also invest in state-of-the-art imaging software technology and increase the quality of their services for their patients.

Do you think that there are many start-ups tackling the same issue?

The medical imaging field is a crowded field with all sorts of retailers when it comes to size and operational system. However, there is plenty of room for innovative companies who can present novel approaches to diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of human pathologies. This is due to the fact that the medical imaging range includes multiple imaging modalities and technologies such as CT, MRI, PET, US which are used for the study of several pathologies seen in various human organs. As a result there is no solution that fits all and there is no retailer that can cover the entire medical imaging sector. Especially in the field of brain MRI sequences that we analyze, we are confident to believe that Brainance MD® is able to offer the proper tools and processes for physicians so that they can achieve better diagnostic results in less time.

So, what makes Advantis stand out from the pack?

In our particular domain, apart from the traditional stand-alone suppliers which develop offline off-the-shelf software, we have not yet seen other start-up companies which offer the same functionalities in a clinically approved software environment. However, we like competition as that makes us work harder and progress. Plus we are excited to see other cloud and AI medical imaging start-ups emerge and succeed, as together we all shape the new era of medical imaging. At Advantis we strive for high quality products and we focus on feedback that we receive from our healthcare users on a daily basis.

What has been the biggest obstacle that you had to overcome?

Starting up a company in the medical device sector is in itself a highly demanding venture. The medical device field is extremely regulated – which is a good thing – although it creates significant obstacles for new companies during their go-to-market strategy. From the very first days of our foundation as a company we embraced all required regulatory frameworks and standards such as ISO 13485 and CE directives and made them part of our corporate DNA. This gave us the advantage of obtaining both certificates in time for the release of our product onto the EU clinical market.  Apart from the regulatory aspect, we are an R&D oriented company and we need to meet our own standards of quality together with our commercial KPIs as much as possible within the projected time frames and budget.

Was there a moment when you thought of giving up?

Never! Entrepreneurship is an addictive “sport” and we always strive to do our best despite the challenges and obstacles that we face. The positive feedback that we receive every day from our users motivates us to keep on going and achieve even higher goals.

And, what has been the most gratifying moment?

I believe the fact that we have had a highly advanced medical software product certified and made this available within the clinical market in less than 2 years of design and development was our biggest accomplishment. Apart from the commercial aspect of this milestone, it was extremely important for our R&D team to see the results of their work being adopted by expert users.

What can we expect from you in the coming years?

We are working in two different areas at the moment. The first one involves the optimization of Brainance MD® in terms of processing conduits and features. The second has to do with expanding our coverage of other human organs, which in turn will provide physicians with an all-in-one medical image processing platform that is able to assist them in achieving early, accurate diagnoses of severe human pathologies.

Can you tell me a bit about the feedback you’ve gotten?

We have been commercializing Brainanace MD for the past 1.5 years in the clinical domain and the feedback has been really positive. The topics of the feedback vary. We receive comments concerning the extremely simple to use and intuitive user interface which invariably leads to less time spent having to use software. As well as the multiple-purpose processing features which can provide the user with more insights. And the ease of accessibility, as users can operate Brainanace MD just by having an internet connection and a web browser. Last but not least, the more dynamic pricing schemes which allow smaller healthcare organisations to adopt this technology and make it part of their daily clinical practice.