Butterfly Network — a company that plans to begin shipping a handheld full-body ultrasound device called the Butterfly IQ — has raised $250 million in a new round of funding. According to Forbes’ sources, this round of funding values Butterfly at $1.25 billion.
Fidelity led this round of funding. Fosun Pharma, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Jamie Dinan, and several other existing investors also participated in this round. Butterfly Health Network has now raised $350 million in total funding thus far.
“Even in the developed world, price and lack of expertise are barriers that prevent access to ultrasound, with approximately 4.7 billion people unable to obtain medical imaging. In hospitals worldwide, we can impact the cost of care as we move towards value-based models,” wrote Butterfly Network President Gioel Molinari in a Medium post. “In developing countries, ultrasound can be used as a diagnostically superior and safer method than X-ray to diagnose critical global health issues like pediatric pneumonia. Our integrated software platform is paving the way for early detection and remote diagnosis of health issues around the world.”
The Butterfly iQ is available for order now and it will start shipping to thousands of pre-order customers soon. A high number of these customers are hospitals as the device is not being sold for consumer use. Butterfly Health received FDA clearance last year.
Since the Butterfly IQ has a lower cost semiconductor chip in the device rather than the piezoelectric crystals used in traditional ultrasounds, the price to buy one is substantially lower at $1,999. Other traditional ultrasound machines often cost well over $50,000.
And the software has a monthly fee for its software to make the images sharper. The cost is $35 per month for individuals and $100 per month for ten users. The iQ is expected to become available in Europe next year followed by China in 2020.
“We chose ultrasound because it is a proven medical technology with thousands of applications throughout all stages of human life. The physical exam is moving into a new era, where bedside ultrasound will be an essential component. Medical students around the world are now being taught to see inside the body. Butterfly iQ will arm the next generation of doctors with visual stethoscopes, expanding access beyond the elite professionals that have access to ultrasound today,” added Molinari.
Butterfly founder, CEO, and executive chairman Dr. Jonathan Rothberg is known for inventing high-speed “Next-Gen” DNA sequencing. He also founded DNA sequencing companies like 454 Life Sciences and Ion Torrent.
Rothberg had told Forbes the inspiration for this ultrasound device was personal because his daughter suffers from tuberosclerosis (TSC). This disease causes patients to develop tumors throughout the body. Rothberg decided to launch Butterfly after seeing a talk about artificial intelligence by MIT physicist Max Tegmark.