Lithuania Is Becoming a Growth Hotspot for Digital Health
Lithuania is becoming a growth hotspot for digital health as the Life Sciences sector here is regarded as one of the most highly developed in Central and Eastern Europe. Life Sciences is high on the political agenda and digital health sector therefore is boosted by an integrated network of science valleys and universities that supply businesses with top-notch talent. Research into medical technologies in Lithuania includes areas of biomedical diagnostics and monitoring systems, as well as research into the efficiency of electronic security systems, the analysis and synthesis of electronic devices, and the quality of electronic systems. While competences in medical diagnostics – particularly in imaging, 3D printing, sensors, IT and laser technologies – make Lithuania an exceptionally attractive location for MedTech projects.
Digital health sector is also supported by the country’s artificial intelligence ecosystem which continues to expand rapidly, with more and more AI start-ups emerging that are getting interest from local investors. One of these startups is Ligence, currently backed by angel investors and a venture capital fund from Lithuania.
Ligence Heart is developing an AI based software for automated analysis of the most widely performed heart ultrasound examination – the two dimensional transthoracic echocardiography (2D TTE). A regular 2D TTE examination is performed by either a cardiologist or a sonographer and the workflow is labor intensive as it involves manual measurements to be made on the ultrasound system during the examination. In fact, it takes approximately 30 to 90 minutes to complete and given the subjective nature of the investigation it often includes numerous inaccuracies. Automation solution offered by Ligence allows medical practitioners to skip manual measurements, hence reducing procedure time by up to 50%, while reducing variability and providing expert level accuracy.
Ligence Heart software is a web-based DICOM image viewer which utilizes deep learning neural networks to recognize different heart image views, detect heart phase, make segmentation and landmark detection of various heart structures. Then, various parameters are calculated and automatically transformed into a standardized echocardiography report. The measurements performed are fully adjustable and have to be approved by a physician who is performing the analysis. Ligence expects to receive CE mark for their AI system in Autumn this year and begin sales in Europe. Currently, the company is seeking investments for its seed round to support commercial activities with the current product and to continue development of Ligence Heart to fully automate standard 2D TTE protocol.
Ligence is already an active member of Lithuania’s health tech ECHAlliance ecosystem, and has its deployments in hospitals in Lithuania, Norway, and the Netherlands. The company has partnerships with leading cardiovascular research centers, including Oslo University Hospital and Radboud University Medical Centre. Ligence is also a part of one of the biggest echocardiography studies “Stress Echo 2030 (SE2030)”, where together with 58 other research partners it aims to find new applications of the AI technology in medical imaging. The company is open to new research and business partnerships which could contribute to better access to quality diagnostics and follow-up, including but not limited to the ultrasound market.