BuzzVestor Media looks at the latest private investment deal flow, valuations, sector and fundraising activity in Spain to gauge what to expect in 2024. Plus we talk to Ángel Alberich-Bayarri, co-founder and biomedical engineer of Quibim, to learn how this Valencia-based startup is harnessing AI to unlock the “hidden language” of cancer within medical scans. Read our profile on the company in this report.
The Spanish private equity and venture capital (PE/VC) industry painted a mixed picture for 2023, with investment volumes declining 34% compared to 2022 due to global economic anxieties. However, fundraising reached record highs, indicating continued faith in the long-term potential of the Spanish market.
Private capital investment in Spain hit €6.11 billion in 2023 with a total of 781 transactions, according to SpainCap.
Key takeaways from 2023:
- Overall investment: €6.11 billion, down 34% from 2022.
- Private Equity: €5.25 billion, similar to 2020-2021 levels.
- Venture Capital: €855.2 million, reflecting a cautious approach.
- Fundraising: €2.60 billion, maintaining 2022’s dynamism.
- International investors: Driving the market with 77.3% of total investment.
- Large deals: 9 transactions exceeding €100 million dominated investment volume.
- Middle market: €1.34 billion across 64 operations.
- Hot sectors: Medicine/Health, Energy & Natural Resources, Internet (by investment).
- Most active sectors: TIC/Internet, Medicine/Health, Biotechnology (by number of deals).
Despite the decline in investment volumes, SpainCap President Oriol Pinya remains optimistic. He highlights the industry’s historical resilience and commitment to supporting companies during economic slowdowns.
Despite the global economic slowdown, our industry remains optimistic, investing in new companies and their teams. The Venture Capital & Private Equity industry has demonstrated its financing capability and support for companies during previous slowdowns. We will continue to drive Spanish startups and SMEs, providing the necessary capital for a sustainable future and supporting their management teams.Oriol Pinya, President of SpainCap
Deal valuation trends:
- Large deals: Expected to remain prevalent, attracting significant capital.
- Middle market: May see stabilization or slight growth.
- Early-stage VC: Potential for correction due to risk aversion by investors.
In 2023, divestments reached an estimated figure of €796.4 million (at cost), spread across 304 deals. The extended exit timelines for invested companies are attributed to lingering concerns in the global economic landscape. Fund managers are directing efforts toward managing invested companies and are prepared to inject the necessary liquidity to stimulate business activity, maintain investment plans, and create employment.
The most commonly used divestment mechanism, based on volume, was “Loan Redemption” (44.4%), followed by “Recognition of Losses” (19%) and “Repurchase by Shareholders” (16.4%).”
- Macroeconomic headwinds: Inflation, potential recession, and geopolitical tensions could dampen investor sentiment.
- Exit timelines: Prolonged due to economic concerns, impacting fund returns.
The Spanish PE/VC industry appears prepared to navigate the uncertain economic climate. Continued international investor interest, coupled with record-breaking fundraising, suggests ongoing support for promising Spanish companies. However, deal valuations and exit timelines may undergo adjustments. The industry’s adaptability and long-term focus will be crucial to its success in 2024 and beyond.
Sector focus: Medtech & AI
Beyond the Scan: How AI is Revolutionising Cancer Care
AI-powered cancer detection and stratification is transforming imaging into actionable insights for patients, clinicians and medical trials
Imagine an oncologist ordering an imaging test. Usually, they get back a report describing the tumour size – bigger or smaller. But the image holds much more information. Quibim wants to unlock that information to improve cancer treatment and patient care.
Imagine facing cancer treatment, only to discover the chosen drug fails. What if AI could predict this, saving you precious time and offering hope? This is the promise of Quibim, a Valencia-based startup harnessing AI to unlock the hidden language of cancer within medical scans.
Cancer trial efficacy is just one of the challenges a company called Quibim, headquartered in Valencia, Spain, is helping to solve for patients, pharmaceutical companies and researchers.
The company is one of the startups harnessing the power of AI to transform medical imaging into actionable insights. The realm of cancer diagnosis and treatment, and specifically, the role of imaging is undergoing a significant transformation.
While traditional imaging techniques like MRI and CT scans have been invaluable in identifying lesions and guiding treatment decisions, they often fall short of providing comprehensive information about the disease. This is where AI-powered imaging analysis comes into play, offering a promising avenue for early cancer detection, patient stratification, and personalised treatment planning.
Quibim, for example, analyses medical images, such as MRIs, CTs, and PET scans, to detect cancer, stratify patients, and follow the progress of tumours over time. They also work with biopharma and academia to develop new imaging biomarkers.
Quibim’s products are already in use in hospitals in the UK and the US. They have a product roadmap that will allow them to answer many questions about cancer in the next five years.
Led by Ángel Alberich-Bayarri, a biomedical engineer with extensive research experience in imaging biomarkers, Quibim has developed a suite of AI-powered tools that analyse medical images to provide clinicians with a wealth of information beyond tumour size and location.
“We’re not just looking at the size of the tumour,” explains Alberich-Bayarri. “We’re trying to understand the tumour’s biology, its aggressiveness, and its response to treatment.” By extracting this detailed information from imaging data, Quibim’s AI algorithms can help clinicians make more informed decisions about patient care based on thousands of patient images.”
One of Quibim’s key strengths lies in its ability to stratify patients, identifying those at high risk of metastasis or treatment resistance. This information is crucial for tailoring treatment plans to individual patients, ensuring that they receive the most effective therapies.
“We’re bringing the concept of personalised medicine to imaging,” explains Alberich-Bayarri. “We’re not just detecting cancer; we’re helping clinicians predict patient outcomes and guide treatment decisions.”
Cancer treatment is not one-size fits all
Imagine technology is stepping into a future where cancer treatment isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, doctors can peer deep within your tumour, not just to measure its size, but to understand its unique biology and predict how it will respond to therapy. This is the promise of Quibim, a company pioneering the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in cancer imaging.
Quibim claims it moves beyond traditional imaging, which simply shows tumour size, to unlock a wealth of hidden information. Their AI algorithms scour medical scans, extracting insights into a tumour’s composition, aggressiveness, and even potential response to specific treatments. This opens the door to:
Personalised Medicine: No two tumours are alike, and neither should their treatment. Quibim works to empower doctors to tailor therapy to the individual, potentially leading to better outcomes and fewer side effects. Imagine drugs that work even if the tumour doesn’t shrink, targeting its specific vulnerabilities.
Filling the Gap in Biopsies: Biopsies, while crucial, offer only a snapshot of a tumour’s ever-evolving story. The company’s software allows AI analysis of serial scans, tracking subtle changes over time, and providing valuable information even without repeated biopsies. Think of it as a continuous biopsy, unfolding the tumour’s dynamic behaviour.
Beyond Genetics: While genetics play a vital role, Quibim adds another layer to the puzzle. Their AI-powered insights complement genetic testing, offering a more comprehensive picture of the disease. Imagine a world where imaging and genetics work hand-in-hand to guide treatment decisions.
Quibim products, partnerships and international product clearance
MRI analysis: QP-Prostate®
Quibim’s MRI analysis product, QP-Prostate®, is currently being used in clinical practice to help radiologists interpret prostate MRI scans and detect cancer more accurately. The company also has a pipeline of products in development for other types of cancer, including breast, lung, and colorectal.
The Philips deal
In October 2023 Philips and Quibim partnered to develop AI-powered imaging and reporting solutions for MR prostate exams. This collaboration aims to enhance diagnostic confidence, personalise treatment, and improve patient outcomes. Quibim’s AI-enabled image analysis software will be integrated with Philips’ AI-based MR imaging techniques to provide clinicians with automated prostate gland segmentation, quantitative insights, and standardised reporting.
Paediatric cancer treatment
Quibim is also working on a groundbreaking project called PRIMAGE, which has developed a cloud-based AI platform that revolutionises paediatric cancer treatment by integrating genomic, clinical, and imaging data to provide personalized treatment plans. The project, born and coordinated in Valencia, Spain, has significantly advanced research in the field, paving the way for improved patient outcomes. This comprehensive approach allows for a deeper understanding of pediatric cancers, particularly neuroblastoma and diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG).
The company has also announced major market breakthroughs in recent months. QP-Brain® product produces quantitative analysis of patients’ brains by using an AI-based tool that automatically quantifies and displays results based on the data from MRI Scans directly in PACS. It provides for example quantification and visualisation of imaging findings. This is useful for identifying patterns of brain atrophy and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and vascular and frontotemporal dementia, at earlier stages and also makes reporting more effective.
The product has received an FDA 510(k) clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration, a CE mark for the European Union and a UKCA mark for the United Kingdom. This means the product is now cleared to be used by clinicians in those markets.
The future of cancer care is one where AI empowers doctors to see beyond the scan, understand the unique language of each tumour, and ultimately, choose the most effective treatment for each patient. Quibim is one of the companies paving the way for a future where personalised medicine becomes a reality for every cancer patient.
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