Montréal’s Aifred Health wins second place at IBM AI XPRIZE competition

Aifred Health

Montréal-based healthtech and artificial intelligence (AI) startup Aifred Health today won second place at the final round of the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE competition and will take home a $1 million USD prize for its digital health software.

“The $1 million USD prize will be used to accelerate the delivery of our AI technology in the treatment of depression and other mental illnesses.”
– Aifred Health

Aifred Health offers clinical solutions for mental health treatments using AI. The startup’s second-place win comes five years after it entered the XPRIZE competition along with 150 other applicants. Aifred Health was the only Canadian startup to make it to the finals of this global competition.

“It is with enormous pride and excitement that we announce that Aifred Health placed second in the world in the Global IBM Watson AI XPRIZE,” Aifred Health tweeted following the announcement.

“The $1 million USD prize will be used to accelerate the delivery of our AI technology in the treatment of depression and other mental illnesses,” the company added.

In this final round of the XPRIZE competition, Aifred was one of three competition finalists. Tel Aviv, Israel-based Zzapp Malaria won the $3 million first-place prize, and Pittsburgh, PA-based Marinus Analytics won the $500,000 third-place prize.

The finalists were selected out of a pool of 10 semifinalists following presentations of their solutions to a panel of judges during an event held last year.

To determine the winner, a jury of representatives from around the world evaluated each team based on its performance in the following areas: achieved technical impact, evidenced real-world impact, scalability of real-world impact, and ethics and safety.

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Aifred Health was founded by four McGill University graduates and was incubated at Concordia University’s District 3 Innovation Hub. The startup’s app asks patients a series of standardized questionnaires on a weekly basis and gives clinicians access to more data on their patients’ ongoing health. The app then uses AI to help clinicians determine personalized treatment methods for patients.

In December, Aifred Health raised a $4 million seed round of funding, co-led by MEDTEQ and BDC Capital. When Aifred Health was revealed to be in the top three finalists in February, the company said it planned to use its prize money, as well as its seed funding, to fund the clinical trial required for regulatory approval of its solution.

“Each of the three finalists of the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE showcase what’s possible when the power of AI is used to address some of the world’s toughest challenges,” said Daniel Hernandez, general manager of IBM Data and AI. “It’s inspiring to witness how the AI technologies we developed at IBM help these organizations realize and scale their good tech solutions to drive positive societal change.”

Image source District 3 Innovation Hub.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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