SFU alumni company MetaOptima taps into Australian dermatology market
A company founded by SFU alumni Maryam Sadeghi and Majid Razmara after finishing their PhD studies is now on the world stage.
MetaOptima Technology, already established in the Canadian market, has raised more than $8 million to expand its advanced dermatology and skin cancer imaging and management software, DermEngineTM, into Australia’s dermatology market.
The pair established MetaOptima to better address how skin cancer is screened, detected and managed. The company’s proprietary products are the MoleScopeTM, a mobile ‘dermoscope’ that captures images of the skin to better track moles for any changes over time, and DermEngineTM, an intelligent dermatology platform that works with MoleScope. The products were created to assist healthcare professionals and patients throughout the screening process.
DermEngine combines artificial intelligence and mobile technologies to assist doctors in imaging, documenting, communicating, diagnosing and managing skin cancer and other dermatology conditions. It’s designed to improve diagnosis accuracy and the quality of care while reducing unnecessary referrals, visits and related costs—all within minutes.
“We wanted to modernize the way tracking and diagnosing skin cancer is conducted,” says Sadeghi, CEO of the Vancouver-based company, which since 2012 has grown to 30 employees. Many are graduates from SFU and other post-secondary institutions.
In terms of the Australian market, she says, “our goal is to be in every major dermatology and cancer clinic in the country, and we’re well on track to making that a reality.”
The company will next aim for potential U.S. markets and also has interest in Europe.
Sadeghi, originally from Iran, credits “the amazing support” the pair received as they began to develop the company. As clients of SFU’s Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection, they benefitted from mentorship and access to a range of services available to help innovators grow their ideas.
“I really feel it was the support from these programs and from colleagues while I was carrying out my research and developing my ideas that I was able to grow this company for success,” says Sadeghi, a former director of SFU’s Digital Health Hub.
“These support systems are in place to encourage growth. We are so fortunate to be a part of this innovation ecosystem for health tech.”
Sadeghi went on to be named one of Business in Vancouver’s Top 40 Under 40, while the company won the top prize in the BCIC New Ventures competition in 2013.
She hopes the move into Australia will help improve health outcomes in that country. Skin cancers account for nearly 80 per cent of newly diagnosed cancers there. Meanwhile, more than five million cases are diagnosed annually in the U.S. and another 80,000 in Canada.
“Ultimately," she says, "we want to save lives by developing tools that make the world a better place for patients, doctors and businesses."