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Oxford data visualisation experts develop ground-breaking tool to help speed up COVID-19 diagnosis

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Covid-19 Data Visualisation tool
Data visualisation experts at an Oxford business incubator have developed a ground-breaking tool to help speed up the diagnosis of COVID-19.

Using a combination of deep learning and data visualisation, Oxford University spin out, Zegami, has developed a proficient computer platform of the same name that distinguishes between X-rays of COVID-19 infections and those caused by bacterial pneumonia, as well as healthy lungs.

Based at Grassroots co-working space, a purpose-built hub owned by Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), the innovative company has specifically adapted the software for use in the fight against coronavirus. The newly developed platform is now freely available to aid clinicians taking part in COVID-19 research.

Zegami CEO and founder, Roger Noble, said: “Currently there is a swab test for COVID-19 but the cheapest and quickest option for triage is a chest X-ray – you can get the result back in minutes.

“Our concept can be used to diagnose COVID-19 quickly and will help researchers, data scientists and clinicians who are having to work with large numbers of imaging data.

“It is critical to get these tools out there. Radiologists are in short supply but there is an increasing demand for their services. It is inevitable that artificial intelligence will be brought in to help assist. Zegami accelerates the development of algorithms providing the right diagnosis.”

Inspired by Microsoft PivotViewer software, Zegami was founded in 2016 after a successful collaboration with the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Oxford.

Zegami has successfully grown, with support from the Grassroots team. Roger added: “The Grassroots team has supported us tremendously throughout the lockdown period, which was really helpful, allowing us to focus on the business without added stress.

“For now we are continuing to work remotely, however the door is always open. We have worked closely with the Grassroots team looking at grant funding opportunities as well as mentoring for leadership and management. The virtual mentoring and networking group has been extremely helpful.”

Virtual business coaching, business support and coaching classes have been offered to all Grassroots customers from Oxford Innovation Services in partnership with the national innovation agency Innovate UK, which funds business and research collaborations, and Enterprise Europe Network, which provides support for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises with international ambitions.

Grassroots Community Manager Eman Hamdan said: “Our main purpose is to help outstanding scientists build and grow great businesses that can change the world.

“We are delighted to see the hard work continuing by our Grassroots businesses during these difficult times and we congratulate Zegami on their efforts to help those in the battle against coronavirus.

“As an incubator we pride ourselves on providing the flexibility, space and support to help businesses prosper and grow and we have worked hard throughout lockdown to continue to do this.

“We have continued to provide business support tailored for start-ups including the introduction of a virtual coaching programme, cash flow advice, and help with grant applications.”

Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI) and Oxford Innovation, the UK’s leading operator of Innovation Centres, work together to manage Grassroots.

Open to entrepreneurs and fledgling businesses working in the science and technology industries, the specialist base provides a mixture of dedicated offices and co-working space as well as phone booths, meeting rooms and a boardroom.

Oxford Innovation

Oxford Innovation is the UKs leading innovation centre operator providing flexible office, workshop and laboratory space to over 1,000 early stage and start-up companies. Oxford Innovation manage 26 centres across the UK providing 384,785 sq ft of innovation space. The company also delivers innovation services to entrepreneurs, including business planning advice, fund raising, coaching and mentoring.  For more information, visit:


Oxford Sciences Innovation

Oxford Sciences Innovation is an early-stage investment firm based in Oxford. It operates in partnership with the University of Oxford, as the University’s preferred investor and several prominent financiers back the firm, including Google Ventures. The firm uses academic research from the university’s science departments to form commercial businesses, also known as spin-outs. Since their first investment in November 2015, OSI has been helping Oxford scientists address the world’s leading challenges, from infectious disease to sustainable energy. For more information: www.oxfordsciencesinnovation.com


Zegami was born out of a collaboration led by Oxford scientist Steve Taylor and tech polymath Roger Noble to analyse and understand large datasets from experiments generating thousands of images of cancer cells and data from the human genome. Zegami is a data visualisation platform that enables scientists, researchers and clinicians to understand structured and unstructured data from multiple sources: images, video and API’s. Find more information: www.zegami.com

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