HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 164
Houston innovator gears up for commercialization for AI-driven lung cancer diagnostic tool
When a United Kingdom-based, artificial intelligence-driven lung cancer detection tool opened its United States headquarters in Houston, the company tasked Jason Pesterfield with the role of CEO to oversee international expansion and commercialization strategy. Pesterfield, who's based out of the Texas Medical Center's Innovation Institute, is familiar with the job he's been hired to do — that's because he's done it before.
After spending almost two decades at medical technology company, Stryker, Pesterfield joined St. Louis-based Veran Medical Technologies, a company also focused on lung cancer detection, and grew the business over 8 years years to a $30 million-plus annual revenue company before it was acquired by Olympus Corp. in 2020.
After assisting with the transition, he was approached by U.K.-based Optellum's Founder Timor Kadir about taking the reins of Optellum last year to again help scale the early stage digital health company.
"I'm not a computer scientist or an algorithm guy, but I do have experience in commercialization, leading teams, building culture, acquire great talent, working with my team to build a great strategy, and working with investors to make sure we're in a good financial position," Pesterfield says on the Houston Innovators Podcast.
Optellum was founded in 2016, and first entered the Houston market by way of the TMC's accelerator program and its BioBridge with the U.K. The company's technology is an AI platform that helps practitioners diagnose and treat early-stage lung cancer. The software uses natural language processing to scan medical reports of nodules in the lungs to give health care providers more information on cancer diagnostics — an analysis that takes just seconds.
"It's like having a hundred thousand sets of eyes looking over a physician's shoulder," Pesterfield says.
In September, the company raised a $14 million series A round of funding, and Pesterfield explains how that funding is being deployed to focus on growing teams within sales, B2B support, and its research and development pipeline.
He explains on the show that Optellum is just getting started with its relationship within the Houston innovation ecosystem. Pesterfield says Optellum is even on the path to securing its first Houston-based customer.
"We're really at the beginning of it," he says. "This is the epicenter of medicine within the United States. There's no bigger or better place for health care than Houston. It's great to be a part of that and to have access to those facilities and those world class physicians and care teams."
Pesterfield share more on Optellum's future on the podcast. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.