Following a year in which Vara expanded into international markets like Greece and Mexico, the deeptech startup today announces that it has raised a further €4.5 million to continue international expansion. The extension, which takes the total Series A funding raised to €11 million, 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 invested after seeing the impact Vara had on its own workflows. Its latest investors join OMERS Ventures, Merantix, Think.Health, Soleria Capital and Plug and Play in backing the cancer screening company and the funding 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, the completion of the wide-scale clinical trial.
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, Vara has access to more than 10 years of clinical and pathological follow-up data from 9 million+ mammograms. According to the company in 2022 alone, Vara has tripled the number of mammograms performed through the platform.
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. Of the 700,000 global deaths caused by breast cancer each year, ~70% occur in low and middle income countries. In part due to the inability to diagnose early caused by a lack of technology, awareness and of specialised screening radiologists.
Vara’s funding extensions follows the launch of a Germany-wide clinical study of AI and workflow software in breast cancer screening, with an expected recruitment of 400,000 screening-age women. Vara’s PRAIM Study (PRospective multicenter observational study of an integrated artificial intelligence (AI) system with live Monitoring) study, which is due to run until mid-2023 is the largest study to date. The study is led by Prof. Dr. Alexander Katalinic, Director of Social Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Lübeck and scientific advisor to the German Mammography Screening Program.
Jonas Muff, Co-founder of Vara shares: “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 shares: “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, adds: “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.”