TD chief AI officer, CDL-Toronto lead team up with health expert for new healthtech startup, Signal 1

Signal 1 co-founders
Signal 1 secured $12.7 million from Geoffrey Hinton, former Rogers CEO, others.

Three Canadian technology leaders are coming together to launch a healthtech startup with $12.7 million CAD ($10 million USD) in all-equity seed funding.

Signal 1, which was co-founded by TD chief AI officer Tomi Poutanen, raised the Inovia Capital-led seed round with participation from TD Bank Group (TD), artificial intelligence (AI) pioneer Geoffrey Hinton, former Rogers Communications Inc. CEO Nadir Mohamed, as well as Radical Ventures, which Poutanen co-founded with Jordan Jacobs in 2017.

Other participants include angel investor Chen Fong, Communitech CEO and president Chris Albinson, and former NEXT Canada CEO Joe Canavan.

Signal was also created by economist Mara Lederman and health data scientist Muhammad Mamdani. Both have spent a significant portion of their careers scaling technology, with Lederman previously working as a site lead for the Creative Destruction Lab in Toronto, and Mamdani leading data science and advanced analytics research across Toronto hospitals through Unity Health Toronto.

Signal 1 also announced strategic collaborations with Unity Health Toronto, an Ontario-based health network, and with TD, as part of the investment. TD committed $4 million in Signal 1’s seed round to use Signal 1’s platform, which was developed by TD’s Layer 6 team.

TD acquired Layer 6 four years ago, with Poutanen and Jacobs joining the bank to lead its AI efforts. Jacobs later left TD in 2019 to start Radical Ventures. Poutanen is also known for co-creating the Vector Institute in 2016, alongisde Jacobs, Hinton, Richard Zemel, Raquel Urtasun, Ed Clark, Sanja Fidler, David Duvenaud, Roger Grosse, Daniel Roy, and Brendan Frey.

Using artificial intelligence (AI), Signal 1 aims to provide hospitals with an end-to-end solution for integrating AI-driven insights into existing hospital workflows.

Through its collaboration with Unity Health, Signal 1 will build on the AI systems already in use by clinicians at St. Michael’s Hospital. Called “CHARTWatch,” the platform uses commonly collected data and a machine-learning algorithm to accurately predict which hospital patients are likely to deteriorate and which are clinically stable.

CHARTWatch has been in use in the general internal medicine unit of St. Michael’s Hospital since October 2020. Signal 1 claims that when aided by its platform, clinicians were 15 percent better at predicting which inpatients would deteriorate.

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With her expertise in the areas of platform economics and start-up commercialization strategy, Lederman is serving as chief operating officer of Signal 1. She led the Toronto site of the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL-Toronto) for almost four years where she was responsible for overseeing the expansion of CDL-Toronto’s footprint into new areas. This includes the launch of the mentorship program’s three health-related streams. She also currently serves as an expert economist with Keystone Strategy on antitrust matters in digital platform industries.

In addition to working as the clinical advisor for Signal 1, Mamdani is also the vice president of data science and advanced analytics at Unity Health Toronto, which comprises St. Joseph’s Health Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital, and Providence Healthcare. He spent the last six years leading a team of data scientists and engineers at St. Michael’s Hospital to use data and advanced analytics to improve patient outcomes and hospital operations. He is also an adjunct senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and a faculty affiliate for Vector.

Launching with more than $12 million in seed funding, Signal 1 plans to accelerate its research and development for its cloud-based platform, initial AI applications, and model monitoring capabilities. The fresh funds will also support the start up in building its deployment team with healthcare industry experience and its go-to market efforts in Canada and the United States.

Featured image courtesy of Signal 1

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a journalism student at Ryerson University and a staff writer for BetaKit. Follow her on Twitter @charlizealcaraz

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