GE health unit buys Swedish start-up Prismatic Sensors, bolstering key medical imaging business

  • GE Healthcare said the start-up's technology offers sharper images with fewer doses of radiation to patients.
  • It has the potential to be a "substantial step forward" in detecting cancer, heart disorders and other diseases, the company said, declining to disclose the terms of the deal.
  • The acquisition fits within GE Healthcare's mission to help medical workers deliver more precise diagnoses and detect diseases earlier.

GE Healthcare announced Friday it is acquiring Swedish start-up Prismatic Sensors AB, bolstering its key medical imaging business.

Prismatic Sensors AB was founded in 2012 as a spin-off from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. It makes detectors for medical x-ray imaging.

GE Healthcare, a subsidiary of General Electric, said the start-up's technology offers sharper images with fewer doses of radiation to patients. It has the potential to be a "substantial step forward" in detecting cancer, heart disorders and other diseases, the company said, declining to disclose the terms of the deal.

The company said the acquisition fits within its mission to help medical workers deliver more precise diagnoses and detect diseases earlier.

The technology could eventually be used to detect cancers at an earlier stage, GE Healthcare CEO Kieran Murphy said in an interview with CNBC, adding the company has had a stake in the start-up since 2017. "Clinically, it's a huge leap forward. This is the cutting edge."

"From the first x-ray machines to the first photon counting CT prototype, GE Healthcare is committed to pioneering next generation technologies to achieve precision health and improve lives," he added in a statement.

GE Healthcare is already a dominant player in hospital and lab equipment and is a growing force in medical records, health-care software and has expanded its mark on gene therapy research. In 2019, GE Healthcare got clearance from the Food and Drug Administration for a new artificial intelligence-powered X-ray device that the company said reduced the time to detect a collapsed lung in patients.

The unit generated $4.5 billion in revenue in the third quarter alone.

Murphy told CNBC that the company was "in the eye of the storm" early in the coronavirus pandemic this year as it saw high demand for its medical imaging technology to diagnose lung conditions arising from Covid-19. He also said the company was heavily involved in ramping up the production of ventilators, which included teaming up with Ford Motor.

"We've done a fantastic job addressing the Covid needs out there," Murphy said, adding that he thinks the GE Healthcare team has arisen to the occasion despite the once in a century pandemic.

In 2018, GE announced plans to separate GE Healthcare into its own company as it looked to double down on its core industrial and energy businesses. GE eventually decided to retain the unit but still sold the biopharma portion of the business to industrial firm Danaher for $21.4 billion. GE completed the sale to Danaher in late March.

GE Healthcare said it expects to close the acquisition by January.

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