An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Thomas Colarusso (co-founder and CEO) of BioAI Health, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of BioAI – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
I co-founded BioAI back in January 2020 with friends and colleagues who shared a common view that there were major challenges in healthcare and pharma clinical development. We envisioned using new AI technology to develop better, more effective drugs and help analyze the mountains of patient data coming in from clinical trials. There is a major shortcoming today in cancer research that many of the new drugs do not benefit and/or are not accessible to all patients across all markets. The tests for early detection of cancer are also deficient. The majority of patients, by the time they are symptomatic, have cancer that is metastasized and progressed too far for most standard therapies to give patients an adequate fighting chance for survival and improved quality of life. We started BioAI to help innovate and deploy novel AI-powered diagnostic tests that are rapid, cheaper, and globally accessible. We are engaged in several programs that are working to develop novel drug therapies that are more effective.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
We started the company self-funded and did not raise external capital. The early days of the journey were challenging without venture capital and angel investors. We worked hard to build the technology, the team, and the first use cases to demonstrate to the market that we had solid technology, a great idea, and a team of expert professionals. The 3 co-founders have diverse skills and expertise that crossed the 3 main pillars required for an AI firm, including corporate development, sciences, and IT technology. We had a strong global network of professional clients in the industry that gave us an opportunity to do business at large pharma and biotech companies, but we had limited resources to tackle projects as fast as we would have preferred.
What does the future hold for BioAI?
BioAI did secure capital in 2022 and has been making significant progress in building a panel of new AI digital biomarker applications. We aim to have our first tests deployed in a clinical lab setting to screen patients in clinical trials by end of 2024/early 2025. We are continuing to partner with top pharma companies to build a new range of biomarker testing applications that are being designed to support new oncology therapy clinical development and help screen patients to identify the right target subpopulation (genotype and phenotype). We also want to expand the use of our technology to develop early detection cancer screening tools, plus pioneer the use of multi-modal causal AI to identify novel drug targets for disease that can help transform today’s clinical practice and improve patient outcomes.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in New Hampshire?
The tech startup scene in Manchester is growing, and we aim to lead the charge. Our company is already global, and we are working with top 10 pharma companies. We are headquartered in Manchester, NH but have staff remotely located across East US, West Coast US, Ireland, Germany, and India. There are several new biotech companies spinning up in the incubator that was founded by Dean Kamen, including ARMI and BioFab USA. Our hope is to attract new biotech firms to also setup R&D in southern NH and work with BioAI to establish a biotech incubator to foster the development of new therapy startups, clinical labs, diagnostics, and medical devices.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
The key to starting a company and taking the leap is that you need to be confident in your business ideas and not be afraid to take a risk. You should test your ideas with trusted advisors and get the feedback that will help you on your journey to starting a business. Once you start, don’t give up. You will be faced with challenges, sacrifices, and anxieties that will push you to the limit at times. Don’t be afraid to be wrong. You should embrace feedback from your peers, be objective and open minded, and surround yourself with the best talent and successful people you can find and learn from. I have developed an amazing global network of colleagues, partners, investors, advisors, clients, clinicians, scientists, technologists, and financial experts across all facets of the industry that continue to provide outstanding guidance, input, support, and encouragement that has helped us to take this idea of becoming a top AI company in the world on the track to become the next unicorn in this industry.