EarliTec Diagnostics Secures $21.5M Funding to Enhance Early Autism Diagnosis

$21.5M, autism, diagnose, earlier, EarliTec Diagnostics, raises

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects approximately one in 36 children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Early diagnosis is key to improving the developmental outcomes for children with autism. EarliTec Diagnostics, a startup based in Atlanta, has recently raised fresh capital to expand its innovative system for diagnosing autism in children as young as 16 months old.

The FDA-authorized approach developed by EarliTec involves using artificial intelligence (AI) to track a child’s eye movements while they watch short videos and engage in social interactions on a screen for 12 minutes. The startup claims that children with autism will not focus on the video in the same way as children without autism. By analyzing the child’s eye movements, EarliTec’s system can help clinicians identify indicators of autism.

To fund its expansion plans, EarliTec Diagnostics raised a Series B round of funding, raising $21.5 million. The funding round was co-led by Nexus NeuroTech Ventures, a venture firm specializing in brain disorder solutions, and Venture Investors, a Midwestern venture fund focused on healthcare companies. The startup currently works with eight clinicians across six states in the U.S.

Traditional autism diagnoses usually involve lengthy assessments that can last three to four hours and have long waitlists. This can delay the diagnosis and subsequently impact the child’s access to early intervention services. EarliTec’s 12-minute test aims to streamline the diagnostic process, enabling clinicians to provide faster diagnoses and support more children.

Tom Ressemann, the CEO of EarliTec Diagnostics, emphasized the importance of integrating their diagnostic system into the existing workflows of healthcare professionals. The test is flexible and can be administered at various locations, including the child’s home, a clinic, or a school. This flexibility makes it easier for clinicians to incorporate the test into their regular procedures, ultimately benefiting both the child and the parent.

The funding from the Series B round will be used to support the continued commercialization of EarliTec’s technology. Ressemann stated that the company intends to invest in research to expand the age group that the system can diagnose, allowing for earlier intervention. Additionally, the funding will contribute to improving assessment and treatment options for children with autism.

Ressemann, who brings extensive experience in the medical device industry, described the recent fundraising as challenging yet rewarding. He acknowledged that raising funds for autism-related solutions can be difficult due to specific investor interests. However, he noted that there is a positive shift in investor attitudes towards the autism-focused healthcare space.

This growing interest from venture capitalists in autism-focused healthcare solutions is an exciting development. In 2021, the Autism Impact Fund closed a $60 million fund, surpassing its original $50 million target. Divergent Ventures also raised a $10 million fund focused on early-stage companies in the neurodiversity space. Furthermore, Nexus NeuroTech Ventures, a backer of EarliTec, was recently launched specifically to invest in neurotech solutions.

Several startups in the autism-focused healthcare space have also secured significant funding. Cortica, a company specializing in diagnoses and treatment plans, has raised more than $175 million in venture funding. Forta, which offers family-focused autism therapy, has raised over $55 million. Opya, a digital therapy platform for autism, has raised more than $19 million.

Ressemann acknowledged the rapid advancements in autism diagnosis, assessment tools, and treatment options. He reflected on his personal experience navigating the diagnosis and treatment process for his 27-year-old son. However, he also questioned why investors have only recently shown interest in backing autism solutions and tools.

According to Ressemann, increased awareness of the prevalence of autism has played a significant role in attracting investor attention to this space. The awareness campaigns have not only educated the general public but have also contributed to more accurate diagnoses and a better understanding of the extent of the condition. This increased understanding has provided investors with a clearer picture of the market size and potential opportunities.

The size and magnitude of the problem posed by autism also attract investors. When there is a substantial unmet need, investors are often motivated to invest in addressing that need. The recent interest from venture capitalists in the autism-focused healthcare space is a positive sign, as it indicates that more funding is flowing into startups that can improve the lives of children with developmental delays and disorders.

In conclusion, EarliTec Diagnostics’ innovative system for diagnosing autism in young children, combined with the recent funding round and the growing interest from venture capitalists, reflects a positive trend in the autism-focused healthcare space. Early diagnosis plays a critical role in improving developmental outcomes for children with autism, and the advancements in diagnostic tools and treatments are paving the way for better support and intervention. The increased awareness of autism’s prevalence and the recognition of the magnitude of the problem have contributed to the recent investor interest in this area. Ultimately, this convergence of innovation and investment has the potential to transform the lives of children with autism and their families.

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