Posted on October 26, 2021
The OCT, short for Optical Coherence Tomography, is the most recent medical eye scanning machine and is the fastest growing imaging modality in the history of Ophthalmology. Recent technological advancements in OCT have allowed doctors to image the eye and the cornea at a very high precision allowing the OCT machine to replace alternative imaging platforms for the eye exam.
“At OCT Analysis, we’re creating a software that integrates into the OCT machine of the physician and automates patient assessment and evaluation using Artificial Intelligence. We started out with certain eye diseases that we’re digitizing with a goal of creating a holistic and versatile platform that will relieve some of the clinical burden off the doctor.”
Using OCT Analysis, patient assessment is fast, objective and fully automated, away from human bias and error and lays the foundation for future telemedicine in the fields of Ophthalmology.
“The project started initially as research work. The team then realized that the software can be further developed and used by all ophthalmologists around the world. We then decided to initiate it as a startup. As a technical and non-business team, we applied to the Innovation Factory seeking to learn how to turn a scientific project into a successful business. We learned the fundamentals of business and financial planning, pitching, and raising investment. We transitioned from having a purely academic mindset to one that takes into consideration financial and business feasibility.
Through Berytech and the Next Society programs, we learned how to be lean and stay open to feedback and suggestions, ready to pivot at any time. We developed our business models and financial plan and calculated our investment size. We became ‘investment ready’. So far, we’ve built a minimum viable product (MVP) and piloted it to numerous physicians across the world for testing and feedback. Our next challenge is to expand the platform’s functionalities and monetize it.
As academicians, we tend to keep projects under the radar before finalizing the work. Through our startup journey, we’re proud of breaking this habit and piloting our unfinished prototype to users regardless of the imperfections. We are perfectionists at heart and always prefer showcasing projects only when perfectly done and running. But we learned from startup founders that a product is never ready, never perfect and it takes courage and skill to time it well and release your product to the relevant stakeholders while embracing its bugs.
The project started as a side hustle and hobby to the team. The economic crisis in Lebanon, coupled with the blast and the COVID19 crisis made it so that it was much harder to live as a Lebanese resident. Dealing with an extremely high rate of skilled emigration, we could not find long term team stability. The crisis has left us, hospital workers, severely understaffed and overworked, with little free time and ever increasing responsibilities. We became preoccupied in fulfilling the first few pillars of the Maslow hierarchy instead of self actualizing, which in this case is represents our side project.
As every resilient Lebanese, we’re trying to push through this crisis hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel. The project, in our perspective, symbolizes our dream to make an impact and push for change regardless of the circumstances we’re passing through. So far, our motivation is as high as ever and is the reason we’re still getting things done.
By the end of this program, we want to be incubated in Europe to facilitate funding, scaling and recruitment. We also hope to get funded by a like-minded investor with experience in the medical/ophthalmology field. Meanwhile, we’re constantly developing our idea and plan on gradually expanding the team.”
The OCT analysis team is part of the Innovation Factory program allowing researchers and novel entrepreneurs in Lebanon to develop their innovation in any technology-based sector into commercially viable products and applications. The program, based on technology transfer, gives participants international exposure with access to local and global markets, B2B networks, and a pool of seasoned experts, mentors, and investors.
It is funded by the European Union under THE NEXT SOCIETY project and is organized in Lebanon by Berytech and ANIMA, and in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia by THE NEXT SOCIETY national partners under the Tech Booster program.