- Pharmaceutical company Bayer agreed to buy Blackford Analysis as part of a broader focus on radiology innovation.
- Edinburgh, Scotland-based Blackford built a software platform to help healthcare providers manage multiple imaging applications and AI algorithms through one system.
- The companies didn’t disclose the terms of the deal. Bayer said in a statement that it aims to outpace the radiology segment’s average annual growth of 5% until 2023.
The two companies have been working together since 2019, when closely held Blackford was selected as a startup in Bayer’s G4A Digital Health Partnerships Program. They struck a development and license agreement a year later that set the foundation for Bayer’s medical imaging platform, Calantic Digital Solutions, which it launched last year to help radiologists manage their workload.
Bayer said the acquisition will help bolster its radiology portfolio, which also includes contrast media for imaging and informatics solutions. In 2021, Bayer’s radiology segment brought in €1.8 billion ($1.95 billion).
“Adding Blackford and its AI technology to our radiology portfolio secures Bayer an excellent position in the fastest growing segment within the overall global radiology industry,” Bayer Pharmaceutical Division President Stefan Oelrich said the statement. “This acquisition complements our comprehensive radiology portfolio and nourishes our engagement to drive innovation in digital health.”
Bayer, which sells contrast dyes and injection systems, has been shifting its overall radiology strategy from a focus on individual products toward becoming what the company calls a “solution provider,” Alex Salvador, Bayer’s global head of digital solutions business, said in an interview. Blackford’s technology will allow Bayer’s customers to add multiple AI functions to their clinical workflows, relieving pressure on radiologists by allowing them to review increasingly complex images faster, more accurately and with fewer staff.
“You have actually a shortage of reading radiologists and also more financial pressures, so you have to do more with less,” Salvador said. “So one way that AI can really help is with [relieving] this increase of this huge pressure on the department.”
Blackford will operate as an independent organization under Bayer “to preserve its entrepreneurial culture,” the companies said. It will be responsible for advancing its technology and partnerships, while benefiting from Bayer’s scale and reach. The acquisition is expected to close later this year.
This article has been updated with comments from Bayer’s global head of digital solutions.