Surgical robot maker cuts to the chase

money-glitz | Victor Zhong 4 Oct 2021

AI-based medical imaging firm Beijing Airdoc Technology has turned to Hong Kong for its initial public offering after an attempt to go public on Shanghai's Star market ended in July.

Founded in 2015, the Bejing-based company offers artificial intelligence medical solutions with a developed core product, the Airdoc-AIfundus, which comes in three versions.

The first version, an AI-based software as a medical device, SaMD, has been approved for auxiliary diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy to assist physicians with medical diagnosis.

It was the first of its kind to obtain the Class III medical device certificate from China's National Medical Products Administration, the company says.

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness in people who have diabetes, according to the website of the US National Eye Institute. It affects blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of the eyes.

The company says that it began to generate revenue from the first version of Airdoc-AIfundus in the first quarter this year.

Meanwhile, its Airdoc-AIfundus 2.0, designed for hypertensive retinopathy, retinal vein occlusion and age-related macular degeneration, will be put up for approval from the NMPA in the second quarter of 2022 while approval for the third version - which is indicated for pathological myopia and retinal detachment - will be sought in the first half of 2024.

Meanwhile, its SaMD for glaucoma detection and fundus camera, the AI-Funduscamera-P, have also won approvals from the country's regulator of drugs and medical devices.

For now, Airdoc provides health risk assessment solutions for health checkup centers, community clinics, insurance companies, optometry centers and pharmacies, accounting for nearly 90 percent of the total revenue.

China's AI-based medical imaging market is expected to increase from 300 million yuan (HK$366.32 billion) in 2020 to 92.3 billion yuan in 2030 at a 76.7 percent compound annual growth rate, the prospectus says, citing a commissioned report by Frost & Sullivan.

However, the start-up warns it cannot assure that the demands for its AI-based early detection, diagnosis and health risk assessment solutions will achieve the anticipated levels within a reasonable period, which could result in a failure to achieve the expected sales and profit margin for the services.

Its net loss narrowed in the past two years, down by 8.12 percent to 80.06 million yuan in 2020. The first-quarter loss this year fell by 52.65 percent to 12.12 million yaun amid growing research and development expenses.

Some of the net proceeds from the IPO will be used to optimize, develop and commercialize Airdoc-AIfundus, and to fund the research and development and manufacturing of products and services.

The funds will also be used to develop its portfolio, for collaborations with academic and research institutions, and working capital and general corporate purposes.

Ahead of the share sale, it has raised 801.5 million yuan in eight rounds of funding at the latest valuation of 4.96 billion yuan.

The company counts Citic Securities (6030), Ping An Insurance (2318), China Everbright Group, LBC Sunshine, and Fosun Kinzon Capital's Yadong Beichen among its pre-IPO backers.

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