Richmond-based private equity fund Blue Heron Capital said Tuesday that it has invested in a company that uses artificial intelligence to help health care practitioners care for patients at risk for lung disease. Blue Heron took part in an $11 million investment round in VIDA Diagnostics Inc., based in Coralville, Iowa.
The company uses a combination of artificial intelligence and CT imaging software to aid medical practitioners with the early detection, evaluation and treatment planning for patients who have lung disease or are at risk of lung diseases, including emphysema and airway obstructive diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, interstitial lung disease and lung cancer.
Blue Heron participated in the investment round along with the venture capital fund First Analysis and the Iowa-based hospital network UnityPoint Health. Founded in 2012, Blue Heron focuses its investments on companies in health care, technology and tech-enabled business service companies. “Core to our investment strategy, we will leverage our world class operator network to help VIDA accelerate their already impressive growth,” said Tom Benedetti, a partner at Blue Heron Capital.
Blue Heron will have a VIDA board seat as part of the investment, and Blue Heron firm has named two advisers to the company:
David Hunt, the CEO of Ensemble IP and former owner of Landon IP; and Dick Hamrick, a pulmonologist who served as chief medical officer at HCA Virginia Health System and HCA Capital Division. “VIDA’s artificial intelligence solution applied to radiologic images improves quantitative analysis,” Hamrick said. “When you combine this solution with the judgment delivered by trained radiologists and specialists, overall accuracy improves and enhances the diagnosis of lung diseases. This powerful combination is better than either humans or machines can do separately.”
This is the fourth investment from Blue Heron’s Fund II. Previous investments included Blue Heron’s participation last year in a $26 million investment round in Stratasan LLC, a provider of data analytics software that helps hospitals and health systems do strategic planning and evaluate growth opportunities.