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Pioneering AI solutions in spine imaging with Nedelcho Georgiev, the CEO of CoLumbo


Bianca Iulia Simion

· 4 min read
Pioneering AI solutions in spine imaging with Nedelcho Georgiev, the CEO of CoLumbo
Advancing spine diagnostics: how AI and Nedelcho Georgiev's startup CoLumbo are making a difference

Nedelcho Georgiev, CEO, and Founder of CoLumbo, identified a critical gap in healthcare technology after a personal back injury revealed the lack of dedicated spine imaging software. This episode led to the creation of CoLumbo, an innovative AI tool for lower spine MRI analysis. With a track record in healthcare projects, Georgiev's team developed an algorithm recognizing soft tissue and Musculoskeletal (MSK) pathologies.

CoLumbo streamlines radiologists' workflow, providing preliminary reports for review before final diagnoses. Now, let's delve into CoLumbo and hear from Nedelcho Georgiev on its impact and future in the industry.

1. What 'aha' moment led to the founding of CoLumbo?

The 'aha' moment occurred during a discussion between the CEO and the other co-founders about the challenges faced recently. We realized that the same AI and Machine Learning technologies the software engineer has been exploring could be applied to automate and enhance the analysis of diagnostic images. We envisioned a software solution that not only speeds up the review process but also increases its accuracy by identifying patterns and anomalies that might be missed by the human eye.

2. What drove you to embark on this journey with CoLumbo? What change did you envision for the healthcare industry?

The development of Columbo started with Smart Soft Healthcare in 2021, which was established as a spin-off from Smart Soft - a company already on the market since 2004 with several profitable AI solutions. The company ownership and management came from its predecessor - Smart Soft. After a conversation with radiologists, we discovered that there is a need for such a solution for MRI spine exams, and we embraced the idea. We had this vision for change in the healthcare industry that centers around leveraging technology to revolutionize patient care, improve outcomes, and increase accessibility. Specifically, we aim to:

  • Integrate digital solutions to automate administrative and clinical processes, reducing the burden on healthcare providers and allowing them to focus more on patient care.
  • By improving diagnostic accuracy, we can initiate treatments sooner, potentially leading to better health outcomes.
  • Reduce expert disagreements primarily in borderline cases and contribute to consistent diagnoses, eliminating bias.
  • Promote health and wellness through technology-enabled preventive care strategies.

We envision a future where healthcare is more efficient and accessible, leading to improved health outcomes and quality of life for people around the world.

3. How does CoLumbo significantly contribute to helping doctors, and what specific challenges does it address within the healthcare landscape?

CoLumbo helps doctors with up to 48%-time savings (90% long-term savings) and 15% reduced errors of omission. CoLumbo helps radiologists work efficiently with MRI and achieve consistent, high-quality results. Our AI solution significantly shortens the time needed by radiologists, thus decreasing the workload on them and allowing hospitals/imaging centers to serve more patients. It also increases diagnostic accuracy and reduces patients' waiting time, disagreement, errors of omission, and, therefore, malpractice costs.

4. How do you plan to scale CoLumbo, ensuring both technological innovation and financial success?

We are the first in the MRI lumbar spine market.

To scale CoLumbo effectively, we are leveraging our pioneering position in the MRI lumbar spine market, an area where we've achieved significant milestones, including the development of a substantial and unique dataset that is challenging to replicate, particularly due to the complexity and time-intensive nature of creating accurate annotations. Our distinction also lies in being the first software to address multiple pathologies, with ongoing efforts to expand our diagnostic capabilities beyond just one part of the spine to encompass the entire spine. This comprehensive approach sets us apart and addresses a broader range of healthcare needs.

The development and clinical trial phases are critical hurdles that many companies struggle to overcome, yet we have successfully navigated these challenges, demonstrating our technical proficiency and capacity to meet rigorous regulatory standards. Our strategy is not only focused on technological innovation but also on achieving financial success. By 2029, we aim for CoLumbo to be installed in 10% of both newly sold and existing MRI machine workstations, totaling approximately 5000 units. This ambitious target is a testament to our commitment to widespread adoption and impact.

Following the establishment of a solid client base with MRI solutions, we plan to introduce a CT solution, aiming to capture 2.7% of the market, or 1600 CT scanners, by 2029. This phased approach allows us to consolidate our presence in the MRI segment before expanding into the CT market, ensuring both technological innovation and financial sustainability.

5. Is CoLumbo sustainable?

Upon completing our strategic growth phase and setting the business in self-sufficiency, we plan to fund future expansion and development through the profits generated from our current projects. By then, our software will have established its presence across marketplaces, supported by a robust corporate infrastructure, a skilled team, and streamlined processes ready for further scaling. As a software company with a strategic focus on distribution channels, we anticipate a model where our expenses increase linearly, while our revenues surge exponentially. This approach positions us to be the first on the market to quickly capture market share, securing long-term relationships with clients and distributors alike. With the largest dataset in our industry, we maintain a competitive edge in accuracy, reinforcing our leadership position. Additionally, we will seek to upkeep expansive medical annotation sets, further solidifying our technological advantage.

6. What’s the technology behind the product? Who has trained your AI?

Award-winning algorithms built on the largest proprietary database of annotated L-Spine MRIs. Fully annotated L-spine MRIs behind our algorithms.

7. What potential exit scenarios do you envision for investors supporting CoLumbo?

We envision and are exploring the following potential long-term scenarios.

Acquisition of a Top 3 Spinal Implant Manufacturer:

Such an acquisition in the orthopedic and spinal health sector would not only broaden our technological base and operational capabilities but also position CoLumbo as a dominant player in the global spinal health industry. Such consolidation is anticipated to create substantial value for our investors, offering an appealing exit opportunity through the realization of combined strengths and enhanced market presence.

Acquisition of a Top 3 MRI Manufacturer:

Building on our strategic vision, we are contemplating another long-term potential, namely the acquisition of a leading MRI manufacturer, which ranks among the top three in the industry. This ambitious move will aim to solidify our presence in the medical imaging sector, diversifying our product offerings and melding advanced MRI technology with our innovative solutions. By tapping into the increasing demand for sophisticated diagnostic tools, CoLumbo intends to set new benchmarks in healthcare delivery. The fruition of this strategy promises to boost our competitive advantage and market valuation substantially, offering our investors a profitable exit opportunity through increased equity value.

Initial Public Offering (IPO):

Building upon our strategic trajectory, including the potential acquisitions within the spinal implant and MRI sectors, CoLumbo is laying the groundwork for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) as a pivotal long-term goal. This move towards going public is designed to offer our investors a transparent and direct avenue to liquidity, while also leveraging the public market's recognition of our operational expansion and technological innovations.

8. How do you see CoLumbo's growth trajectory?

We envision CoLumbo at the forefront of revolutionizing spine diagnosis and treatment through artificial intelligence, effectively bringing the future into the present to enhance healthcare outcomes globally. Our ambition is to establish ourselves as the global leader in this domain.

For the upcoming version of CoLumbo, we aim to significantly enhance its capabilities by doubling the number of detectable findings and time-savings alongside our existing features of segmentation, labeling, and diagnostic description.

Further in CoLumbo’s growth trajectory is introducing support for Computer Tomography (CT) and broadening our offerings with the introduction of surgery planning.

Our growth strategy is underpinned by several key factors: expanding our scan volume capabilities fourfold with CT support and with the inclusion of cervical spine analysis; aiming for a fourfold increase in client volume bolstered by a 75% retention rate.

By enhancing its features and also covering the Cervical spine, Columbo has the opportunity to become the number 1 Spine solution.

9. Do you have a mentor or someone in the tech industry whom you admire, and how have they influenced your approach?

I don't have mentors or admire individuals in the traditional sense. However, I can highlight how the collective insights from leading figures in the tech industry have influenced the development of AI technologies and approaches in the field. Their work emphasizes the importance of curiosity, perseverance, and innovation - qualities that are essential in the tech industry. They've shown the value of deep theoretical understanding combined with practical application, pushing the boundaries of what AI can achieve.

10. Why should investors consider being part of CoLumbo’s journey?

Investors should consider joining CoLumbo's journey for several compelling reasons, encapsulated by our vision, strategy, and the milestones we've achieved and aim to achieve:

  • Innovative Origin recognizes the potential of AI and machine learning to revolutionize the analysis of diagnostic images in spine health.
  • Visionary Leadership: Since its inception by Smart Soft Healthcare in 2021 CoLumbo has been at the forefront of addressing unmet needs in MRI spine exams. Our leadership's experience and foresight have been pivotal in navigating the healthcare industry's complexities.
  • Technological and Clinical Impact: CoLumbo significantly aids doctors by offering up to 48% time savings initially and potentially 90% in the long term, alongside a 15% reduction in errors of omission.
  • Scalability and Market Leadership: With a strategic focus on being the first to market in the MRI lumbar spine domain and expanding to address multiple pathologies.
  • Sustainability and Financial Model: CoLumbo is positioned to easily capture market share and maintain a competitive edge.
  • Potential Exit Strategies for Investors: Our strategic planning includes potential acquisitions of leading companies in the spinal implant and MRI sectors, and an IPO, offering lucrative exit opportunities for investors.
  • Ambitious Growth Trajectory: CoLumbo is set to redefine healthcare delivery with advanced capabilities in diagnostics and planning.

Investors have the opportunity to be part of a pioneering venture that is not only leading in technological innovation but also poised for significant financial success and market leadership. CoLumbo's trajectory from an innovative idea to a potential market leader in spine diagnosis and treatment, with strategic exit routes planned, represents a unique and compelling proposition for investors looking to impact the future of healthcare.

The company has a clear vision for future growth and potential exit strategies for investors, such as IPOs and acquisitions. Our team is actively working towards these goals, ensuring that the interests of our investors are prioritized at every step of our journey.

Explore the opportunity on SeedBlink.

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