We are a telehealth software company with solutions for the eye care industry. Our software platform helps care providers detect chronic eye disease through ocular imaging. Until now, diagnoses are determined by professionally trained graders and ultimately interpreted by ophthalmologists. We are are at a point in the evolution of machine learning technology whereby automated computer analysis is reliable and feasible for specific disease states like diabetic retinopathy. Turns out that there are companies and university research groups that have been working on this problem for years and have developed these algorithms. Some have patents already. It makes no sense for us to build this technology on our own when you factor in the development expertise required (PhD level), time to market and the regulatory approval process. So we have decided to partner with one of these groups. I'm trying to negotiate an exclusive arrangement but it may not be.
Adding this automated diagnosis capability is but one component of a much larger ecosystem of teleophthalmology and virtual care products we have built. It's going to be a background web service, invisible to our users. However, it's one variable that can enable us to really scale since no human intervention is required thus allowing us to diagnosis millions of ocular images quickly and cost effectively and even more reliably than humans.
I'm just wondering how VCs look at these situations. Obviously they prefer you own the entire IP stack but this is not always possible nor does it make business sense in some cases. Or, do they look at the business model and financial plan when they assess the investment opportunity. I know that most software companies rely on 3rd party components for various aspects of their platform.