South Korean imaging AI developer Lunit outlines plans to go public

The Seoul-based artificial intelligence startup Lunit has received a preliminary green light for an IPO on the South Korean Kosdaq market, and the company said it plans to submit a listing within the first half of this year.

Founded in 2013, Lunit’s lead products include AI programs for analyzing breast mammograms and tissue slides for cancer biomarkers as well as scanning X-ray images for common chest conditions.

After going public, the company said it plans to use the proceeds to build out its AI development work and expand its global commercial reach. Lunit already has collaboration deals with digital imaging medtechs such as GE Healthcare, Philips and Fujifilm to incorporate its AI algorithms into their X-ray diagnostics systems.

Meanwhile, Lunit has also signed an exclusive biomarker business contract with the cancer blood test developer Guardant Health focused on identifying patients who may benefit the most from certain immunotherapies. The deal was announced alongside Guardant’s $26 million investment in Lunit last July. 

“We’re very impressed with Lunit’s approach and believe this investment will help them advance their important AI work for eventual clinical use,” Guardant CEO Helmy Eltoukhy said at the time. “Through this investment, we also expect to utilize their AI platform to usher in new precision oncology products that contribute in a meaningful way to improving cancer care for patients.”

Since then, Lunit secured its first two FDA clearances in November 2021 and began the U.S. commercial launches of its software programs for chest X-rays and mammography.

Insight CXR Triage analyzes scans for presuspected conditions, such as a critical build-up of fluid or a collapsed lung. It then alerts clinicians of urgent cases. Insight MMG, meanwhile, helps spot suspicious lesions that could be a sign of breast cancer.

Last November also saw Lunit raise $61 million in venture capital funding, despite previously announcing its plans to go public in South Korea. 

The California-based HealthQuest Capital led the pre-IPO round with a $20 million investment, which Lunit said was the firm’s first for a company in Asia. Additional backing was gathered from Casdin Capital, American Cancer Society BrightEdge, Tybourne Capital Management, NSG Ventures, Naver, Softbank Ventures Asia, Legend Capital, IMM Investment, Kakao Ventures and Mirae Asset Venture Investment.