by John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter | January 23, 2023
Bayer has acquired Blackford Analysis, a U.K. company with a platform enabling radiologists to test the performance and integration of applications and AI algorithms within their individual workflows, and compare multiple medical images with a single click.
Blackford, which was spun out from the University of Edinburgh in 2010, will remain an independent company on an arms-length basis to preserve its entrepreneurial culture, continuing to be accountable for advancing its technology, channel partnerships, and ClinApp portfolio. The organization will not be restructured, and its executive and management teams will remain in position.
Its platform approach is designed to streamline the application adoption process to improve diagnostic and patient outcomes and reduce care costs. Bayer says it will expand its infrastructure, knowledge and reach.
In return, Blackford will strengthen Bayer’s radiology portfolio, specifically its Calantic Digital Solutions portfolio, a cloud-based, vendor-neutral marketplace of AI applications for X-ray, MR and CT imaging. It has applications for triaging and expediting critical findings, enhancing lesion detection, and automating workflow-related tasks.
"With this launch as well as with the acquisition of Blackford, Bayer is advancing on its way from a product provider to a solution provider in radiology, offering a system of third-party and Bayer products to deliver disease-oriented solutions for radiologists and their teams. The acquisition secures Bayer an excellent position in the medical imaging AI sector, the fastest-growing segment within the overall global radiology industry," Gerd Krüger, global head of radiology for Bayer, told HCB News.
Rising demands for imaging in disease detection, treatment guidance and therapy planning allowed the global medical imaging AI market to surpass $400 million in sales in 2021. It is estimated to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of over 26%, reaching $1.36 billion by 2026.
Bayer’s stocks traded 1% lower following the announcement, but has risen 15% in the last month. Based in Germany, Bayer made €1.8 billion (approximately $1.9 billion) in sales in 2021, and aims to surpass the radiology segment’s average annual growth of 5% by 2030.
Blackford was one of the startups in Bayer’s G4A Digital Health Partnerships program in 2019. Together, they formed Calantic Digital Solutions
in 2020, with Blackford laying the foundation for it, according to Bayer, whose radiology offerings were expanded beyond contrast media, devices, software and services by it.
The platform offers apps for thoracic and neurological diseases, including pulmonary nodule detection for lung cancer, potential intracerebral hemorrhage detection, and large vessel occlusions due to stroke. Bayer plans to add more disease-specific apps, including ones from developers, and has begun to release the platform in the U.S. and various European countries.
"Both Bayer and Blackford believe that AI has the potential to help transform healthcare and bring value for patients and their treating physicians. Given that belief, Bayer provides ready access to world-leading expertise in these areas to help identify, validate and drive evolution of product and partnerships," Ben Panter, chief executive officer of Blackford Analysis, told HCB News.
Financial details were not disclosed.
Bayer expects to complete the transaction later this year.