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This medtech startup aims to empower healthcare institutions with digital microscopy solutions

The diagnostic industry is seeing an increased demand in recent years due to an increase in health conditions like cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

Accurate and timely diagnosis provides vital information that is key for the prevention, treatment, and management of these diseases.

Within the diagnostics sector, while radiology has already been digitised, pathology, which involves clinical microscopy, is yet to be disrupted digitally. To address this challenge, entrepreneur Rohit Hiwale founded Morphle Digital Pathology in 2017.

Image Credit: Morphle Digital Pathology

The Bengaluru-based medtech startup is empowering pathology labs, cancer hospitals, and research institutes with its AI-enabled robotic plug-and-play whole slide scanners that provide superior image quality, quick scanning, and image analysis tools.

“The cost of the existing digital machines for pathology is so high that it has not been acquired by most of the healthcare institutions. We wanted to build a cost-effective solution to democratise the digitisation of microscopy,” Rohit tells YourStory.

Y-Combinator backed Morphle won an investment of $75,000 from HealthVenture as a part of the National Bio Entrepreneurship Competition (NBEC) 2019 event by C-CAMP.

Illustration: YS Design

Digital pathology solution

Rohit explains that Morphle has built a robotic plug-and-play microscope that provides high-quality images for cancer and blood samples. The images of the sample can be made available to the doctors via a software platform, enabling them to diagnose the sample.

The software application can be accessed by doctors even remotely at any point in time enabling remote diagnostics. 

“The software interface has different apps for cancer and parameters. For example, blood and urine diagnosis can be done using a different app, and diagnosis using special diagnostics tools can be done using a different app. While some of the apps are made in-house, some of them are provided in partnership with other companies. All the AI-based diagnostics tools are integrated with our platform so that our customers can get access to all the solutions under one platform,” he explains.

Optimus 6 [Image Credit: Morphle]

The founder says the startup, however, faced a challenge amid the pandemic. While the software for diagnosis was accessible anywhere, it became difficult for the startup to deliver the big hardware machine to its clients amid travel restrictions. 

Due to this, the company completely re-engineered the product and broke it down into easy-to-assemble parts that can be assembled by the client within 30 minutes. Apart from this, the company has developed an IoT setup to ensure the maintenance of machines remotely.

Currently, the startup offers three models, namely Index 1, Optimus 6, and Continuum 120. These three models come in different capacities. While Index has one slide capacity, Optimus has six, and Continuum has 120.

Continuum 120 [Image Credit: Morphle]

Business and more

Speaking about the business model, Rohit reveals the startup charges one-time fee for selling the hardware and also charges the customer for maintenance services for the hardware. Apart from this, it also charges its clients a platform fee for using its AI-based diagnostic tools and remote services.

“We have made a total of about 100 deployments, including 20 in international markets like the US, Europe, Philippines, and Africa,” Rohit says.

Mophle raised its seed funding last year from Y Combinator. The founder reveals that the startup is now looking to raise its Series A round of funding.

According to a report by IBEF, India’s medical devices market stood at $11 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $65 billion in 2024. The founder reveals that Morphle competes with other players such as Philips and Leica. However, Rohit believes the startup offers high class technology solutions at a lower price.

Speaking about future plans, he reveals the startup is currently focusing on the Indian and the US market. It is aimed at reaching every pathology lab in India. Apart from this, the startup is also looking to widen its AI capabilities in the long run and expand its services from microscopy to other sectors as well.

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