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27four Nebula Fund: South African medtech startup, VitruvianMD, to address pathology backlog

VitruvianMD secures $1.25m investment through 27four Nebula Fund to scale team, achieve global regulatory approvals, and explore new medical applications for its technologies

South African medtech start-up Vitruvian Medical Diagnostics (VitruvianMD) has developed new technology to solve the current plague of backlogged mortuaries in South Africa, which is being caused by the shortfall of pathologists with specialist skills.

Globally, there’s a significant shortage of pathologists, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. In this region, there’s just one pathologist for every one million people, which is only a tenth of the World Health Organisation’s suggested ratio. The company’s solutions aim to provide crucial help to those with restricted lab access and their vital diagnostic abilities.

At the heart of VitruvianMD advancements lies an emerging artificial intelligence (A.I.) powered photographic system. This new technology is set to revolutionise medical lab testing across Africa by enhancing the way blood and various samples are analysed. This advancement aims to make testing more accessible, precise, and efficient and has the potential to save millions of lives by improving diagnostic procedures and results.

Behind the technology

VitruvianMD’s core technology revolves around a versatile camera system that can be added to any microscope. This system, combined with advanced AI software, makes it easier for labs to transition to a digitally examining samples.

This digital approach, supported by user-friendly software, lets medical experts collaborate seamlessly, no matter where they are. This reduces the risk of dangerous delays in diagnoses. Moreover, the AI software helps medical professionals of all skill levels accurately analyse samples, reducing mistakes and enhancing consistency, precision, and speed in diagnoses.

VitruvianMD’s innovative AI technology is making significant strides in various areas. It’s facilitating distinguishing different types of white blood cells, speeding up and improving accuracy in cervical cancer screenings, and even in the field of fertility. For fertility, it has created a pioneering AI tool that assesses sperm quality for assisted reproduction. This not only measures sperm health but also guides doctors in picking the best sperm for creating embryos.

Investment for social impact

VitruvianMD has secured $1.25 million in funding led by the 27four Nebula Fund. This investment arrives at a crucial moment as the company seeks to bolster its team, achieve global regulatory approvals, and explore new medical applications for its technologies.

Tishanya Naidoo, Venture Capital Principal at 27four Investment Managers, says, “This ground-breaking technology aligns perfectly with the Nebula Fund’s investment principles. It’s innovative, scalable, and has the potential to generate revenue. It will also make an immediate positive impact in South Africa and beyond, offering essential blood screening in remote rural areas in and outside South Africa.”

The R350 million 27four Nebula Fund, launched in May 2023, is gaining momentum with a series of exciting moves. Following the acquisition of VitruvianMD and a promising line up of impactful investments, this venture capital fund is already making waves.

The fund has received financial support from the Department of Science and Innovation, aligning with its goal of promoting innovation and technology commercialisation. The 27four Nebula Fund has a clear mission: to empower high-growth companies with solid foundations. It’s all about disruptive potential, business-to-business solutions, unique intellectual property, scalability in large markets, skilled teams, and positive social impact.

The fund is sector agnostic and focuses on start-ups at the Series A stage, seeking those with proven market concepts. Building on the success of 27four’s previous funds, the Nebula Fund focuses on start-ups that use technology and innovation to tackle societal issues.

Nebula is led by Naidoo, a seasoned professional who previously directed an early-stage fund at at the Public Investment Corporation. Supported by the 27four private markets team and the broader group, Nebula aims to diversify its portfolio beyond healthcare into other impactful sectors.

“Our initial investments are in healthcare, but we’re exploring tech-driven solutions in various fields that improve people’s lives,” says Naidoo.

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