Cerebra is included in the list of the ten most innovative projects by Medtronic

26 January, 2022

In December 2021, the company applied for the Medtronic APAC Innovation Challenge in the Life Transforming Technologies category, and in January 2022, it was announced that Cerebra had entered the TOP-10 finalists. The next step for the project is working on a business case that is being conducted by one of Medtronic’s sponsors in preparation for the final pitch session in March 2022. They’ll take the TOP-5 companies. 

Startup Central Eurasia has talked with Cerebra and the platform is ready to share the story of one of the most successful startups in our region.

What problem does a startup solve?

Cerebra startup is developing software for the automated diagnosis of brain stroke. In Kazakhstan, stroke is the leading cause of death in the population, and the world’s second. The main problem with the disease is that it is difficult to diagnose stroke in the first hours of its occurrence. 

When a patient is brought to a stroke center, he is examined by a CAT scan. On the CT scan (CT scan) taken in the first hours, doctors often cannot see signs of the disease, so it is not always possible to make an accurate diagnosis. You have to wait 7 to 12 hours for the signs to show. But it gets late: part of the patient’s brain dies, resulting in severe disability or death. 

What is the uniqueness of the product?

With the help of Cerebra, a brain CT scan is analyzed by artificial intelligence algorithms. The doctor is given a medical examination on the basis of which he can diagnose and prescribe the correct treatment. 

«The software is available as a cloud platform on a PC, as well as in mobile applications for iOS and Android. Integration with hospitals - our clients are very easy. The hospital makes a request for a connection, our engineer leaves, sets up the CT machine so he can send the images. The medical staff then uploads the mobile application to view the results of the analysis». 

– Cerebra team

How does the programme work and are there similar solutions in the world?

In January 2021, a patient with stroke symptoms was admitted to the hospital, and a picture was sent to Cerebra, who issued a medical test on the basis of which doctors decided to perform the surgery. It went well, and a few days later, the patient was interviewed on television.

With regard to the company’s competitors, similar solutions exist in the world, but they are all based in developed countries, where diagnostics are made on MRI machines. However, they do not fit well with the realities of developing countries like Kazakhstan. First, although MRI machines are more sensitive to signs of stroke in the first hours, they are much more expensive than CT machines. Second, they require more qualified personnel and take twice as long to use.

Since Cerebra was working on a solution to the problem, primarily in Kazakhstan, the company started with the development of a product focused on computer tomography machines.

How has Cerebra developed in terms of business processes?

The project began in the fall of 2018. The first two years of development were under way, and in March 2019 the team received a $50,000 grant from the Sabi Foundation. In the summer, after completing the accelerator, the company received a $50,000 investment from the Singapore Quest Ventures Venture Fund. In January 2021, pilot projects were launched, and in June Seed Round - Cerebra received a $1 million investment from Timur Turlov.

«In order to commercialize MedTech products, it is necessary to obtain a registration certificate from the Ministry of Health, without selling anything to hospitals illegally. We received it in December 2021, but due to the latest events in Kazakhstan, we decided to slightly postpone commercialization and continue working in pilot mode».

– Cerebra team

How does the company see its future?

Cerebra is currently used in 17 hospitals in Kazakhstan, and more than 18,000 patients have been examined on CT scans. Algorithms are also being developed for other diagnostic methods: CT angiography, CT perfusion and MRI. The expansion of the product line will allow collaboration with hospitals and stroke centers in Europe, the USA and other developed countries.

The company plans to connect all Kazakhstan’s stroke centers to the system, set up sales in Kazakhstan and enter the international market (Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, China, South Korea, Turkey).

The Cerebra team also participated in events organized by Startup Central Eurasia. On June 24, 2021, the team pitched their project at Venture Day, and in November startups shared their success story at a regional seminar in Uzbekistan with the support of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). 

«We participated in the selection tour of the regional event Venture Day, and it was a good opportunity to address regional investors and foundations. After Yvette, we ended up with a couple of people. We are very interested in participating in any events both as contestants and as invited guests to share our experience». 

– Cerebra team