Vara scores €4.5M to make AI breast cancer screening accessible to everyone

Vara founders
Image credits: Vara

An AI breast cancer screening startup from Berlin, Vara, has scored €4.5 million in an extension to its Series A funding. This round raises the total Series A investment to €11 million.

Who invested in Vara?

The funding round was led by VI Partners and included impact investor, EQT Foundation, as well as the family office behind one of Germany’s largest radiology provider groups, Med360, which particularly invested after seeing the impact Vara had on its own workflows. Existing investors, including Merantix, Think.Health, Soleria Capital, and Plug and Play also joined the round.

Wide-scale clinical trials

The funds will be used to build on Vara’s momentum to achieve its goal of giving a billion women worldwide access to better screening. In particular, it will be used for the completion of the wide-scale clinical trial.

Jonas Muff, co-founder of Vara: “Today’s funding announcement, in which we welcome such esteemed investors in the healthtech, radiology and impact-focused sectors to Vara, speaks to both the success we’ve seen in recent months, as well as to our ambition. We’re on a mission to make data-driven breast cancer screening accessible to everyone, everywhere and catch every deadly cancer early and this funding extension helps make this mission a reality.”

Madeleine Magnerius, Director within EQT Private Equity’s Advisory Team and Deal Partner for the Vara investment, said: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to support the purpose-driven team at Vara through the EQT Foundation. Vara’s platform already has strong traction in Germany and proven ability to detect early signs of breast cancer more effectively. We believe Vara’s solution could be completely game-changing – especially for emerging countries where Vara wants to make screening more accessible and affordable. Vara fits perfectly with EQT’s thematic investment approach, and we look forward to the exciting journey ahead.”

Arnd Kaltofen-Ehmann, Managing partner at Vi Partners, said: “Vara continues to break ground in how AI and machine learning can transform the screening workflow. From its unique tech and AI approach, to its deep integration with German centres, and its strong partnerships with international providers, Vara is an innovative startup with great purpose. It’s already underpinned by a growing body of peer-reviewed evidence, and backed by clinical and health experts, and through its groundbreaking prospective study coupled with this latest investment, Vara is in a strong position to achieve its life-saving mission.”

Uses AI in clinical screening

Vara was founded by Jonas Muff and Stefan Bunk in 2018 in Berlin to make data-driven breast cancer screening accessible to everyone. Vara partners with local screening clinics to provide breast cancer screenings to the billion women who do not have access to Government screening programmes or expensive private screening.

Through its AI software platform, Vara empowers its partners to screen more women, making more efficient use of the scanning technology. Its decision referral approach leverages the strengths of the radiologists with its AI to prevent as many as 42% missed cancers and reduce as much as 73% of the work of radiologists.

More than 80,000 mammography examinations per month are assessed through Vara, and 30% of all screening centres in Germany work with Vara. Through this integration, the startup has access to over 10 years of clinical and pathological follow-up data from over 9 million mammograms.

International expansion plans

So far in 2022, Vara has tripled the number of mammograms performed through the platform. Now, it powers five screening centres across Mexico in partnership with Mamotest, a breast cancer screening provider with an innovative high quality diagnosis and patient support digital solution. Vara has also partnered with MITERA, the largest Private Hospital in Greece, with the aim of increasing access to breast screening for women across the region.

This international expansion is key to Vara’s mission because, despite the fact that breast cancer could be treated very well if detected in its earliest stages, millions are being left behind by a lack of effective, organised programmes.

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