Breast Cancer Screening Startup Vara Healthcare Raises $7.5 Million

Vara, formerly known as Merantix Healthcare, a developer of breast cancer screening software powered by artificial intelligence, raised £6 million (~$7.5 million) in Series A funding.

​OMERS Ventures​, the venture capital arm of OMERS, led the financing round with participation from German digital health pioneers Merantix, Think.Health, Soleria Capital, and Silicon Valley-based Plug and Play. As part of the investment, Bryony Marshall, Associate Director at OMERS Ventures, will join the Vara board of directors.

Vara plans to use new funds to expand its service offerings across Europe, including Germany, Spain, Poland, and Austria, Switzerland. The company is in talks to set up collaborations in the United Kingdom.

The company says it has already formed alliances with radiology groups and teleradiology providers across Europe and is in advanced discussions to set up collaborations in the United Kingdom. It further continued that cancer screening providers across Europe already implement its CE-certified software platform.

The process of analyzing mammograms is time-consuming and repetitive, with each study requiring manual assessment. By significantly decreasing workload, Vara assists radiologists in detecting breast cancer at a much earlier stage, which is crucial for survival rates and increases the number of studies that can be read, meaning more women can receive critical breast cancer screenings according to the company.

Vara CEO and co-founder Jonas Muff said, “It is our mission to broaden access to breast cancer screening, with too many women around the world unable to receive critical examinations. In screening, 97% of mammograms are healthy, so the reality is that incredibly well-trained radiologists spend the majority of their time performing assembly-line work that is repetitive and time-consuming. Early detection of breast cancer is critical for survival rates, and by accurately ruling out normal mammograms, we enable physicians to focus their attention on the women who need it the most. This results in fewer lives lost, and by streamlining the whole process, from detection to report-filing, even more women can get access to critical screenings.”

Vara, founded in 2018 by Swiss entrepreneur Jonas Muff and Hasso-Plattner-Institute alumnus Stefan Bunk, has raised €9.5 million (~$12 million) to date.

Medical imaging companies raised $80 million in Q1 2020, according to Mercom Q1 2020 Funding and M&A Report. Recently, Cloud-based AI-powered medical imaging platform Arterys raised $28 million in Series C funding round. Temasek Holdings and Benslie Investment Group led the financing round with participation from Fosun, Revelation Partners, Emergent Medical Partners, and Varian Medical Systems.


Image Credit: Vara