Berlin-based Vara, a startup developing an AI system to screen breast cancer, announced on Tuesday that it has secured €4.5M in a Series A extension round, taking the total Series A funding raised to €11M.
The round was led by Swiss venture capital firm VI Partners, with participation from EQT Foundation, Med360, AI Venture Studio, Merantix, and Think Health.
The German company says it will use the capital to provide 1B women worldwide access to better screening, particularly in underfunded areas, to detect breast cancer earlier.
Jonas Muff, co-founder of Vara, says, “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. This funding extension helps make this mission a reality.”
Vara: What you need to know
Founded by Jonas Muff and Stefan Bunk in 2016, Vara is an AI-powered breast cancer screening platform.
According to the company, integrating artificial intelligence into breast cancer screening could significantly reduce workloads, complementing the work of radiologists and increasing sensitivity and specificity.
Radiologists using AI-powered decision referral approach can prevent up to 42 per cent of missed cancers and reduce their workload by up to 73 per cent.
More than 80,000 mammography examinations per month are assessed through its platform and 30 per cent of all screening centres in Germany work with them, says the company.
As a result, the company has access to more than ten years of clinical and pathological follow-up data from 9M+ mammograms. The company claims that in 2022 alone, it has tripled the number of mammograms performed through the platform.
The German company now powers five screening centres across Mexico in partnership with Mamotest, a breast cancer screening provider, and partnered with MITERA, the largest Private Hospital in Greece.
Arnd Kaltofen-Ehmann, Managing partner at Vi Partners, says, “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, it 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. Through its groundbreaking prospective study coupled with this latest investment, Vara is in a strong position to achieve its life-saving mission.”
The EQT Foundation is an impact-first investor and incubator supporting disruptive innovations. Founded by the EQT Partners, EQT Foundation supports entrepreneurs, researchers, and non-profit organisations to build an inclusive and regenerative tomorrow.
Madeleine Magnerius, Director within EQT Private Equity’s Advisory Team and Deal Partner for the Vara investment, says, “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 a proven ability to detect early signs of breast cancer more effectively. We believe Vara’s solution could be 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.”