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  • 24 Sep 2021 2:56 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Parrot Analytics’ global audience demand and brand affinity datasets will eliminate irrelevant or unsuitable product placements and increase brand ROI for Ryff customers

    LOS ANGELES, Calif., 20th September 2021 – Ryff’s digital brand integration platform will now offer brands the ability to create immediate and impactful branding moments on TV and streaming media, thanks to a new partnership with Parrot Analytics. For example, changing weather, politics, sports scores and news can easily be responded to in real time, for the first time. This will enable brands to target product integrations at scale for every demographic.

    Until now, ensuring appropriate cultural and contextual relevance for advertisers has been almost impossible and large-scale campaigns have struggled to cater for small-scale targeted audiences. By taking advantage of Parrot Analytics’ insights into worldwide audience demand for entertainment content, Ryff is now able to deliver product placement inventory for an individual piece of content in any region and country around the world.

    In addition, by leveraging Parrot Analytics’ global audience demand, brand and product affinity datasets, Ryff will realize the benefits of an automated and scalable dynamic pricing system. Revenue will be maximized through the optimal combination of advertiser and content, powered by market-specific audience demand, a dynamic pricing engine as well as Parrot Analytics’ supply-side products.

    Ryff CEO Roy Taylor remarked: ‘We have created a new disruptive approach to reach consumers the world over in a more dynamic and immediate way. As the entertainment landscape evolves, the new digital product placement industry must evolve too.

    By combining our technology with Parrot Analytics’ global audience demand and supply datasets, we are able to supercharge the global targeting of content that will unlock value for our customers - to continue to create the future of advertising.”

    Most minutes watched today are on ad-free platforms where traditional advertising no longer delivers the reach, awareness or sales it once did. Ryff has rewritten the rules of product placement with proprietary GPU-based AI technology, allowing brands to capitalize on the shift in audience preferences by placing products directly into fully mastered and edited content.

    Wared Seger, CEO Parrot Analytics added: “Global audience demand and supply data is key to maximizing the value of product placement on a market-specific basis and we are thrilled to be working with Ryff on this transformative opportunity. We’re excited to help the company elevate the value of its product to both advertisers and content owners. We look forward to working together to give advertisers access to contextually accurate product placement for shows with proven demand and drive increased monetization of this rapidly growing market category.”

    About Ryff

    Ryff is part of a new breed of Hollywood player, rewriting the rules of product placement using proprietary AI technology. The company virtually insert products into fully mastered and edited content including library content on OTT. Ryff is opening up new inventory so brands can reach previously unreachable audiences and build cultural relevance.

    © Scoop Media

  • 24 Sep 2021 9:20 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Statement of Tom Udall Ambassador-Designate to New Zealand and the Independent State of Samoa Senate Committee on Foreign Relations  
    September 22, 2021

    Chairman Menendez, Ranking Member Risch, and members of the committee. It is an honor and a pleasure to meet with all of you again.  As a former member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I have great respect for the important work you are doing to consider the diplomatic nominations before you.

    Today, I have exchanged my seat on the dais to sit as President Biden’s nominee to serve as the United States Ambassador to New Zealand and to the Independent State of Samoa.  After a career of public service in the state of New Mexico, including two terms as New Mexico’s Attorney General, five terms as United States Representative, and two terms as United States Senator, I am grateful for the trust the President and Secretary Blinken have in me to represent the United States overseas.

    The advice and consent role of the United States Senate is one of the most important roles granted to Congress by the Constitution – and I am honored by this committee’s consideration of my nomination.

    Chairman Menendez, with your permission, I would like to take a moment to introduce my wife Jill Cooper.  She has been my partner and chief advisor during my 30 years of public service.  She is an accomplished lawyer in her own right, and a strong advocate for the arts, having served as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.  While they are not here with me today in these chambers, I’d also like to recognize my daughter Amanda and son-in-law Judge Jim Noel.

    In January I marked the conclusion of serving New Mexico in the U.S. Senate. New Mexico is a mountainous and rural state strong in its multiculturalism – including a vibrant indigenous culture.  New Mexico is also rich in natural resources, and growing tech, space, and cinematic sectors, complete with a vital national security sector.   In all these respects, New Mexico is very much like New Zealand.   

    Both are aiming for the stars.  Both continue to invest in new space sectors advancing science, human progress and cinematic storytelling set in their unique geographies.  

    While there are numerous positive comparisons, it is no secret that New Zealand and Samoa, like New Mexico, face enormous threats from climate change.
    As a Senator I made protection of the environment a priority, from championing the Thirty-by-Thirty proposal to conserve 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030, to passing the landmark bipartisan Frank Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act. The President has made it clear “that climate considerations shall be an essential element of United States foreign policy and national security.”  As Ambassador, I look forward to working with New Zealand, a country that shares my passion for the protection of our natural environment.  

    I also look forward to maintaining the strong political, military, and intelligence relationship we share with New Zealand: from World War II when tens of thousands of Americans were stationed in New Zealand, through the post-war Five Eyes intelligence alliance formed by the United States, Great Britain, Canada,  Australia, and New Zealand; and from support for our forces in Afghanistan in 2001 as well as other peace-keeping missions, to formalizing our strengthened defense cooperation in the 2012 Washington Declaration.  

    Just last week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern affirmed that recent developments in the Indo-Pacific do not change the security and intelligence ties of New Zealand to the Five Eyes alliance.

    Members of this committee have been clear that the United States cannot challenge all the threats in the region alone.  We need allies like New Zealand and we need to help them thrive despite those regional challenges.  

    We should not allow outside influences to drive a wedge in that relationship.  As 
    Ambassador, I will work to protect and grow the mutual goodwill between our nations.  

    Countering and competing with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) requires strong partnerships with countries throughout the region.  Beijing continues to pressure countries that stand up to its human rights violations, to threaten freedom of navigation, and to violate international rules and norms.

    To ensure stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region as a whole, it is important to note that our relations do not begin and end with security.  As an island nation, New Zealand is not unique in its dependence on international trade. 

    It is also one of many countries that has felt the pressure of Beijing’s attempts to coerce through punitive trade decisions.  

    The United States is one of New Zealand’s top trading partners.  And I know from experience that during Senate visits overseas many of us looked for ways to increase trade ties between many nations and our respective states.  If confirmed,
    I will work to ensure that our trade relations continue to grow and that you or the companies you represent are welcome in New Zealand.

    As Pacific nations with advanced economies, the United States and New Zealand have both an opportunity and responsibility to support the island nations in the
    Pacific.  All of them are increasingly threatened by the immediate threat of COVID-19, but also the growing influence of the PRC, and the threats from climate change.  The Independent State of Samoa, a small island country rich in Polynesian culture is not immune to these challenges.  We need to continue to reinforce Samoa’s independence with our Peace Corps and Fulbright initiatives.

    Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Risch, and members of the committee, it was one of my great honors to serve on this committee and to serve the nation and the people of New Mexico.  After a career in public service, I am honored by the President’s nomination to represent the United States in New Zealand and Samoa.  

    Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. I am happy to answer any of your questions during this hearing or for the record.

  • 23 Sep 2021 11:25 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Amazon plans to spend $7.5 billion building a cluster of data centres in Auckland, due to open in 2024.

    The tech giant says the Amazon Web Services build will create 1000 jobs, and add $10.8 billion to New Zealand's GDP.

    AWS New Zealand head, Tim Dacombe-Bird told the Herald that the $7.5 billion was calculated over 15 years, and included the cost of building at least three data centre zones and stocking them with hardware, plus operating costs including utilities and salaries.

    Overseas Investment Office is required.

    Amazon says it's in discussions with the OIO, but the Auckland build has already received approving noises from higher up the political food chain.

    "Amazon is the second major global tech provider to invest heavily in establishing a Cloud Region in New Zealand [after Microsoft], bringing with it new jobs, exciting new opportunities for the digital sector, and further acceleration to our economic recovery from Covid-19," Digital Economy Ministery David Clark said this morning.

    "This investment, estimated to be around $7.5band demonstrates the high level of confidence the international business community has in backing New Zealand's economy."

    Clark added, "This will create job opportunities for industries like our construction sector, and bring long term benefits as we see the ICT sector and local innovators significantly grow into the future."

    "Cloud-based technologies are generally accepted now as being the way to work and innovate digitally; an example of this is the NZ Covid Tracer app."

    With its cloud storage and on-demand computing services, AWS is one of the vendors involved with both the NZ Covid Tracer app and the $38m drive to create a new online vaccination management system.

    Local data centres will make both easier in terms of potential data sovereignty issues.

    "Protecting Kiwis' data and privacy is critically important to the Government. Onshore Cloud facilities give us stronger control of New Zealand's data because it is held here, where our laws and protections apply," Clark said.

    AWS currently serves customers from its data centres on Australia's east coast. Bird, said the local server farms would serve local customers like TVNZ , Vector and Education Perfect, "even faster" and address concerns for those with data sovereignty issues who needed data stored locally.

    AWS has doubled its NZ staff to 100 over the past year, and in May opened a larger office in Auckland in the new PwC Tower at Commercial Bay.

    AWS is separate to Amazon's online shopping operation, which has built warehouses across the Tasman and recently opened to Kiwi shoppers. AWS' expansion into NZ is unrelated to any e-tail developments that may or may not happen here.

    AWS is the largest of the big three in cloud computing services backed by a series of massive data centres. The Big Three also includes Microsoft and Google.

    All three were already expanding their cloud computing arms quickly, but the pandemic surge in working from home has turbocharged growth.


  • 23 Sep 2021 11:05 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    As a company, we’re on a mission to raise the next generation of mountain bikers.

    And although we’re based in beautiful New Zealand, and love it – most of the mountain bike families we want to help are off-shore. In fact, only 5% of our customers are down under, which means that achieving our mission means getting serious about the bigger markets.

    Like the US of A.

    And recently, we’ve taken another step towards growing our USA customer base, thanks to New Zealand Trade & Enterprise.

    If you’ve never heard of New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE), they’re the New Zealand government's international business development agency, and they focus on helping kiwi export businesses grow bigger, better and faster. 

    Anyway, we’ve been working with NZTE for a while now, and they’ve helped us with many of the challenges we face as a fast growing export business. Things like strategy, counterfeits, logistics, recruitment, planning. The works. They have been epic!

    And now, we’re pleased to announce their co-investment into our US market growth, thanks to their Investment Growth Fund (IGF) programme. 

    The IGF with NZTE (enough acronyms yet?) provides us with up to $600k of co-investment over the next 3 years, all targeted at growing our business in North America. 

    Receiving the IGF is a big milestone for us, but it hasn’t been without hard work. It’s been a 6 month process led by our co-founder Tom and our financial controller Celia, who have worked to prove the direct economic impact on New Zealand as a result of growing our business off-shore.

    But now, with the IGF under our belt, we can put our foot firmly down on our USA growth plans.

    We’ve already hired Lauren DiMartino, our US market lead. And she’s already busy doing things that we simply couldn’t do from New Zealand right now, like attending bike specific trade-shows like CABDA Chicago, or building deeper relationships with our distributor and network of retailers, including the likes of REI Co-Op. 

    A massive thanks to Celia from our team, and Dave Cotter from NZTE who has supported us through the process of successfully completing our IGF submission. And a special thanks to our distributors, retailers, customers and team for their support to date.

  • 23 Sep 2021 10:18 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    The US has found a new food traceability champion – in New Zealand. Rfider is a winner in the “Food and Drug Administration (FDA) New Era of Smarter Food Safety Low or No Cost Food Traceability Challenge”.

    It is the only company outside of North America to get the FDA accolade, and Rfider will now be promoted widely by the FDA as part of its “New Era Smarter Food Safety” campaign.

    Chief executive John Pennington says the validation of Rfider as globally capable comes at a time when countries like the United States are encouraging firms to voluntarily adopt tracing technologies in all sectors producing human and animal foods.

    The FDA says about 48 million people in the US (1 in 6) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Now it is taking a new approach(link is external) to food safety, leveraging technology and other tools and approaches to create a safer and more digital, traceable food system. The goal is to “bend the curve of foodborne illness in the United States by reducing the number of illnesses”.

    Rfider has developed a next generation digital food traceability platform. “Anyone in the supply chain network can be up and running in minutes, collecting critical event data in a highly efficient way, without the need for costly integration or app development – we’ve taken care of that,” Pennington says.

    “Frontline staff at every point in a food’s supply chain, from growers through to logistics providers and distributors can now scan products to access mobile first tools which simply traceability and provenance information capture. Consumers can also scan the same codes to get real-time updates on an item’s safety, allowing them to make more informed purchase and usage decision.

    “Take our coffee customers, for example. We not only help them trace every lot of beans from harvest to consumer, but we also empower a significant number of process and supply chain efficiencies along the way. Transparency is becoming a major untapped source of value, which could be turned into a competitive advantage for brands that are built on integrity and sustainable practices.”

    The FDA challenge comes off the back of its “New Era of Food Safety Blueprint(link is external)”, which has been designed to enhance traceability, improve predictive analytics, respond more rapidly to outbreaks, address new business models, reduce contamination of food, and foster the development of stronger food safety cultures.


    For more information in Rfider’s tools go to: is external)

    For more information about the FDA Traceability Challenge go to: is external)


  • 23 Sep 2021 10:11 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    After 12 years of exporting, Kiwi cleaning brand Wet & Forget is starting to wipe the floor in the ‘hard to crack’ US market. 

    The company is now selling millions of litres of its flagship Wet & Forget product plus an increasing number of their other products into the lucrative American market through more than 20,000 outlets, including Walmart and Lowes to name just a few of the big box stores throughout the US. 

    That’s solid growth over 12 years for the New Zealand business that started as a one-man operation in the mid 70’s. 

    “Breaking into the American market was hard going. It took years before the product sold there in any volume,” says Wet & Forget founder Rod Jenden. 

    “We used to go to these trade shows and we'd be lucky if we spoke to the janitor. 

    “Nobody wanted to know us. It was embarrassing. But now America is our biggest international market, and we’re continuing to expand our product range there all the time." 

    Wet & Forget’s other international markets are the UK and Australia, with plans to expand into Germany, France and Japan next year. 

    The company also exports dozens of containers of its patented Wet & Forget applicator nozzles to the US each year. 

    The nozzles – designed for high, hard to access areas around the home – are the result of many years of research and development and are now made in Whanganui. 

    “From Whanganui to Washington, Walmarts and beyond – and a world-beater to boot. We quite like that,” says Jenden.


  • 20 Sep 2021 4:16 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Volpara Health Technologies (“Volpara,” “the Group,” or “the Company”; ASX:VHT), a global health technology software leader providing an integrated platform for personalised breast care, today announced that it has commenced a collaboration with Ohio-based Riverain Technologies as part of an expansion plan into the lung cancer screening market.

    Volpara Lung software—an advanced, integrated, and adaptable reporting, tracking, and risk assessment solution for lung cancer screening—enables patient management from scheduling to diagnosis. The software offers structured reporting, customisable reminders, and more than 40 statistical reports to monitor and track patients—critical for outreach to patients overdue for their screening or follow-up exams. Volpara Lung automatically collects and validates all the required data elements for successful submission to the American College of Radiology Lung Cancer Screening Registry® for reimbursement.

    Riverain Technologies offers ClearRead™ solutions that provide intelligent, enterprise-wide, standard-of-care AI tools for early, efficient detection of lung nodules. Their ClearRead suite significantly improves a clinician’s ability to accurately and efficiently detect disease using patented suppression technology in thoracic CT and X-ray images—for earlier, more efficient detection of lung abnormalities.

    “The updated guidelines for CT lung cancer screening recently released by the US Preventive Services Task Force were an important step to improve eligibility and access to screening,” said Mark Koeniguer, Chief Commercial Officer of Riverain Technologies. “However, with a larger patient population, the guidelines also increase the need to track patients over time to ensure that they receive screening and follow-up exams in a timely manner. Volpara Lung software builds on our ability to help clinicians efficiently detect lung nodules and track patients throughout the screening and diagnostic process.”

    Ralph Highnam, PhD, Group CEO of Volpara, said: “Riverain’s robust AI solution is a tremendous complement to our lung reporting and tracking capabilities. We are pleased to collaborate with them to improve access to accurate and efficient lung nodule detection among our Volpara Lung users, particularly across the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN), where we both provide services for a number of these sites.”


  • 19 Sep 2021 12:10 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    More than two dozen New Zealand firms, many startups, have set up shop in metro Denver and Boulder in recent years, making the region a launching pad for their American ambitions.

    New Zealand has about 900,000 fewer residents than Colorado, leaving it with a limited domestic market even when adding in customers from nearby Australia. Though small, the country is a hotbed for innovations with a global reach. Increasingly, those startups are choosing Denver over Silicon Valley and other rivals when it comes to setting up U.S. operations.

    “The mindset in Colorado suits New Zealanders very well,” said Andy Burner, vice president of people and business operations at Xero, a provider of cloud-based business accounting software. “I was blown away by how welcoming and open the city is.”

    Xero, a rapidly growing competitor to QuickBooks, relocated its Americas headquarters from San Francisco to metro Denver in 2017. From about 80 local employees before the move, Denver is now home to more than 200 of the company’s 300 U.S. workers.

    The company is a leader in New Zealand’s tech community, and its decision to leave northern California, the typical landing spot for tech transplants, helped put Colorado on the map. Burner and other Xero executives actively promote Denver, making their compatriots more comfortable with landing here.

    Most of the New Zealand companies coming to Colorado are tech-focused, and some focus on aerospace, an industry where Colorado is a leader. Agriculture and energy are other areas of overlap. Among the Kiwi companies setting up operations in Colorado are AD Instruments, Adeption, Auror, Cin7, FileInvite, Fingermark, Holmes Solutions, Medtech Global, TracPlus and Vend.

    Burner and other New Zealand executives listed similar reasons for why they chose Denver over northern California, and why Denver beat out rivals like Salt Lake City, Austin and Chicago.

    Access to capital, clients and talent are the fundamental reasons why Denver won out over the alternatives, said Ky Hacker, vice president of revenue and operations at FileInvite, a document sharing platform that chose Denver for its North American base in June, a decision that should eventually bring about 140 jobs to Denver.

    Denver and Boulder have a strong base of tech expertise, and skilled workers are willing to move here, which is helpful to foreign companies trying to figure out U.S. labor markets. Denver’s interior location and the variety of domestic flights make it easy to reach other markets.

    When it comes to connecting with the home office in New Zealand, the Mountain time zone also works. And entry costs are lower than in more expensive coastal markets.

    “What really sealed the deal for Denver for us was a quality of life and a culture that meshes well with our business and with New Zealand culture,” Hacker said. “We both want to work hard and grow things fast, but do it in a human way.”

    A concerted effort

    Although recruitment efforts have now gained a momentum of their own, a key accelerator was an active outreach by  Denver Economic Development and Opportunity and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, which led a trade mission to New Zealand and Australia two years ago.

    Stephanie Garnica, global business development director at DEDO, said Denver recruited foreign companies via trade offices until the Great Recession forced it to scale back. In 2018, the city relaunched its international outreach with Garnica and two other employees, reaping a big payback in interest and relocations.

    “New Zealand and Australia are big standouts. They are two of our target markets because of the success we have had and because of the existing community here,” she said.

    Programs like Denver Startup Week and Global Landing Pad help both established and startup companies from other countries get connected to the local business community. New Zealand and Australia have become so important as sending countries that DEDO dedicated an entire Global Landing Pad program to them in the spring.

    “We also know that a positive experience with Colorado, starting with a company’s early investigation and continuing through groundbreaking and hiring here in the state will lead to introductions to other companies. We’ve seen a good deal of that recently with companies from New Zealand and Australia referring companies in their networks to us to explore how they too can successfully grow their business in the state,” said Michelle Hadwiger, the state’s deputy director of global business development, in an email.

    Hadwiger said Australia ranks as the third-largest source of foreign direct investment in Colorado, tied with Germany. Despite its small size, New Zealand is the sixth-largest provider of foreign direct investment, alongside France and Switzerland.

    A cultural fit

    Although the Bay Area represents a mecca for technology startups, doing business there is expensive and the competition for talent is fierce, Garnica said. And with so many options available, employees tend to be less loyal.

    “You want to do interesting work and you want to work hard, but you want to enjoy the outdoors too,” said Tom Batterbury, co-founder and co-CEO of Auror, pronounced “ora,” of the shared ethic that aligns New Zealand more closely with Colorado than the hard-driving Silicon Valley culture.

    Oceans aside, New Zealand and Colorado both share majestic landscapes and plenty of opportunities for recreation.

    “There is the cliché location, San Francisco, and we quickly ruled that out. We had looked at Portland, (Ore.) but it didn’t feel right for us,” he added. Chicago, another city on the shortlist, lacked the outdoor vibe, leaving Denver and Austin.

    Auror provides crime intelligence software that helps retailers track and report cases of theft to authorities, leaving them better equipped to capture repeat offenders and bust up crime rings. Early on the company realized it needed to work with retailers globally to succeed. Although the Denver operations consist of six people right now, including Batterbury, the expectation is for rapid growth as the North American market opens up.

    “Realistically, 90% of our business is likely to be out of North America over the new few years, and we will expect we will have over 100 people on that team,” he said.

    One thing that helped sway Batterbury was a conversation he had with Burner about the merits of Denver over other cities. Now Batterbury recruits other executives from New Zealand. And there are small changes he is noticing that have made life more comfortable here.

    “There are a few places that serve New Zealand and Aussie style meat pies and there are now two New Zealand-style ice cream shops, including one next to Sloans Lake,” he said, noting that English meat pies are no substitute. “It makes you feel close to home.”

    Another confirmation he made the right choice came when he and his wife had their second child and neighbors came out to support them, acting as surrogates for the family and friends they had left behind.

    For Hacker, the presence of other New Zealand companies wasn’t as big a factor as the welcome he found from the Denver business community.

    “We could tell when we were having conversations we could tell there as a sense of welcoming and a tight-knit community. People were comfortable making referrals,” he said, adding one hope FileInvite has is to access local venture capital sources to help fund its growth.

    The New Zealand Office of Trade and Enterprise, the country’s economic development agency, has a representative in Denver, marking the importance of the connection. And in another sign, New Zealand named Burner as honorary consul for Colorado this summer.

    “Colorado is an increasingly important market and growing U.S. hub for New Zealand businesses, especially those in the information technology and aerospace sectors,” said New Zealand’s Consul-General to the U.S., Jeremy Clarke-Watson, in announcing Burner’s appointment.

    More so than restaurants serving their favorite cuisine, one thing New Zealanders who have relocated to the state said could cement the relationship would be a nonstop air link between Denver and Auckland. The route of more than 7,200 miles could shave two or three hours off current connections through Los Angeles and align better with sleep schedules, Batterbury said.

    For him, confirmation that Denver could support a nonstop flight came when he saw many of the people flying with him between Auckland and Los Angeles jump onto the flight he was taking to Denver.

    Laura Jackson, the airport’s vice president of air service development, said Auckland is a target market for future nonstop service.

    “The fundamentals of our business case are strong, supported by continued corporate investment between Colorado and New Zealand, and we expect efforts will regain momentum as travel restrictions ease,” she said.


  • 17 Sep 2021 11:05 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    New Zealand-based medtech startup HeartLab has raised $2.45 million in seed funding that it says will help the company expand its AI-powered heart scanning and reporting platform to cardiologists in the United States by early next year.

    HeartLab provides an end-to-end solution for echocardiograms, the ultrasound tests that doctors use to examine a patient’s heart structure and function. Not only does the software help sort and analyze ultrasound images to help doctors diagnose cardiovascular disease, but it also streamlines the workflow by generating patient reports for doctors that can then be added to a patient’s health record.

    Will Hewitt, 21, started HeartLab when he was 18 years old studying applied mathematics and statistics at the University of Auckland and working as a researcher at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute. The idea for the startup came to him as he listened to cardiologist, and now co-founder, Patrick Gladding explain how time-consuming and potentially inaccurate it is for doctors to have to review multiple scans manually everyday.

    “You’ve got a really repetitive manual task done by a highly trained professional,” Hewitt told TechCrunch. “To start with, we just decided to train the AI to do one really small part of the doctor’s job, which was to look at these scans and generate a couple of different measurements that normally the doctor would have to do themselves,” said Hewitt.

    In order to replicate the tedious process that doctors were doing, HeartLab built its own in-house labeling tool with sonographers that includes step-by-step guides and prompts to collect data on a range of different measurements. Hewitt said this initiative was one of the most valuable efforts of engineering the company has invested in to date because it has lead to cross validation, which is used to test the ability of the machine learning model to predict new data, as well as flag problems like selection bias and overfitting.

    Once HeartLab was able to successfully replicate the scanning process, the company worked to expand its services in a way that would relieve doctors of further admin minutiae so they could spend more time actually treating their patients. Usually, doctors use a software tool that analyzes the images, another that visualizes patterns and another that actually writes up the report, says Hewitt. HeartLab’s platform, called Pulse, can now condense those processes into one software.

    Cardiologists and sonographers at four different sites in New Zealand are trialing HeartLab’s tech now, which is also awaiting regulatory approval from the U.S.’s Food and Drug Administration. HeartLab anticipates FDA approval of Pulse by the first quarter of 2022, which is when the startup can begin selling the SaaS product.

    “To begin with we want to talk to small and medium clinics over in the U.S.,” said Hewitt. “We’ve actually found that our products are most popular at those clinics because it replaces more software than at a larger clinic. At a larger clinic some of these bits of software they’ve already had to purchase, versus a smaller clinic, it’s stuff that they couldn’t access anyway. So when we get to the states, we want to start shipping mostly to those sorts of users while we work out how to best pitch our value proposition to the larger clinics.”

    Hewitt says the funds from this round will also help the startup hire 10 more staff members to join the existing 13-member team based in Auckland. Having more tech talent on board will help HeartLab advance its product offering. At the moment, Pulse is at the point where it sees so many scans and takes so many measurements that it can get through the process quicker than a doctor could on their own and actually pick out patterns that a doctor wouldn’t see, according to Hewitt. The next step, which a good chunk of the seed funding is going toward, is how to be diagnostic about disease rather than just being able to indicate it.

    “How do we actually provide something that normally doctors would have to order another scan for?” said Hewitt. “One of the key ideas with AI is you can create mappings from low-resolution images like ultrasounds. How can we try to learn a pattern from an ultrasound that’s similar to what you might see from an MRI, for example?”

    If HeartLab can figure out how to glean advanced information from an echocardiogram instead of an MRI, it would be able to save hospitals, clinics and patients a lot of money. Each cardiac MRI can cost about $1,000 to $5,000, which is about five times the price of an echocardiogram.

    “I’d say the biggest challenge for us is, how can we transform from a company that at the moment can deliver products to a few local clinics successfully to actually building a product that scales and delivers a really good experience to lots of users and different hospitals?” said Hewitt.

    Advancements in early diagnostics and imaging tech like HeartLabs’ is causing an increased demand for such tools. As a result, the global AI-enabled medical imaging solutions market is expected to reach $4.7 billion by 2027. By extending its reach to the U.S., where heart disease is the leading cause of death, HeartLab is poised to take a big piece of that pie.

    In total, HeartLab has publicly raised about $3.2 million in funding, which includes a pre-seed last October of about $800,000 led by Icehouse Ventures with support from Founders Fund, the San Francisco-based VC firm that led the round announced on Thursday. Icehouse Ventures also contributed to the oversubscribed seed round, along with another New Zealand firm Outset Ventures and private investor and CEO of design platform Figma, Dylan Field.

    “The use of AI in medicine is reducing pressures on health systems and ultimately saving lives,” said Founders Fund partner Scott Nolan, who has led investment rounds for three other New Zealand startups, in a statement. “The HeartLab team has built a really compelling AI-powered platform that doctors love to use.”


  • 17 Sep 2021 10:32 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    NZTE is pleased to organise an Exporter MIQ Allocation pilot, to enable a small number of export representatives to gain access to MIQ places in November and December.

    The Government has approved the pilot, to be administered by NZTE, which will allow 50 export representatives to secure MIQ places in November and December (25 each month), without having to go through the general public MIQ booking process.

    The programme is open to all exporters, not just NZTE customers, but applicants must be an established New Zealand-based business entity that is actively exporting goods or services internationally.

    Please note this is only a pilot scheme, with an extremely limited number of MIQ positions available. As such, we expect that demand will significantly outstrip supply for this pilot phase. The focus for the pilot is therefore to test the approach and process; it will only meet the immediate travel needs of 50 exporters.

    For details see

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