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Centaur Labs Raises $15 Million, Led by Matrix Partners, to Label the World’s Medical Data, Accelerate AI Development

Centaur Labs, a medical data labeling company, announced $15 million in funding to advance their mission to label the world’s medical data. The Series A round was led by Matrix Partners with participation from other funds including Accel, Global Founders Capital, Susa Ventures, Y Combinator, and individual investors including John Capodilupo (founder and CTO of WHOOP), Tom Lee (founder of One Medical), and Elliot Cohen (founder and CPO of PillPack). The new capital will fund the expansion of the company’s global network of labelers and accelerate product development and hiring.

Artificial intelligence is enabling extraordinary advances in healthcare, with the potential to reduce costs and drastically improve healthcare outcomes. However, AI is only as accurate as the data it is trained on. While nearly 30% of the world’s data is generated by the healthcare industry, it is largely unstructured and poorly labeled. To train AI algorithms, healthcare companies require massive labeled datasets of medical images, videos, text or audio recordings, and the efficacy of these algorithms directly depends on the accuracy of the underlying data labels.

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To tackle this problem, Centaur has cultivated a network of tens of thousands of medical students and professionals from over 140 countries. This network primarily labels data on Centaur’s gamified iOS app, DiagnosUs, where labelers improve their skills and compete with one another. The app is designed to judge labelers on their performance and reward the most accurate labelers with cash prizes. Importantly, Centaur collects multiple opinions on every case—with more opinions collected on the most difficult cases—and intelligently combines those opinions into labels that are more accurate than those from an individual expert. More than 1 million opinions are contributed through the platform each week.

“AI learns like humans—by example—and to train an algorithm it takes thousands or even millions of examples. It is difficult to curate large medical datasets, and nearly impossible to source accurate labels from those with medical knowledge and specialized training,” said Erik Duhaime, co-founder and CEO of Centaur Labs. “Our platform is built to support a wide range of specialized medical tasks, and to quickly scale to millions of labels.”

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Grand View Research reports that the global data annotation tools market size is expected to reach $1.6 billion by 2025. Centaur provides annotations for leading medical AI startups like Eko Health, which uses recordings of heart and lung sounds to train AI algorithms for their stethoscope technology, and for researchers at medical institutions such as Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which is leveraging ultrasound data for new AI applications.

“Centaur’s technology doesn’t just offer data labels, it rethinks the medical second opinion and harnesses a network of trusted experts,” said Stan Reiss, Partner at Matrix Partners. “The ability for AI to make an impact in healthcare depends on the ability to solve the data labeling bottleneck, and Centaur will catalyze the development and adoption of AI solutions throughout the industry.”

Centaur Labs is headquartered in Boston, MA. The company was founded by Erik Duhaime, CEO, while he was a PhD student at the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. Other founders include his long-time friend from Brown University, CTO Zach Rausnitz, and VP of Engineering Tom Gellatly, who managed the data labeling team at the self-driving car company Cruise Automation and previously was the Head of Mobile Development at the ridesharing startup Sidecar. Centaur Labs advisors include:

  • Dr. Tina Kapur, Assistant Professor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School and Executive Director of Image Guided Therapy, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Department of Radiology
  • Dr. Matthew Lungren, Associate Professor, Stanford University School of Medicine, and Co-Director Stanford Center for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare
  • Thomas W. Malone, the Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the founding director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence

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