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Asian startups: I see dead people—the story of iGene

Zafar Anjum | Dec. 19, 2013
Mathavan A. Chandran, 45, a Malaysian entrepreneur, has brought IT a little closer to the morbid frontier of death by pioneering a system of digital autopsy that is finding favour in far corners of the world.

Matt Chandran

(From left)  His Honour Judge Peter Thornton QC & Matt Chandran, founder and CEO of iGene 

Information Technology has touched almost all frontiers of life. Not only touched, it has transformed the ebb and flow of life on earth. Perhaps death is the last frontier that IT is yet to conquer.

Mathavan (Matt) A. Chandran, 45, a Malaysian entrepreneur, has brought IT a little closer to the morbid frontier of death by pioneering a system of digital autopsy that is finding favour in far corners of the world.

You might have heard of software as a service or platform as a service. What Chandran's company offers is digital autopsy as a service.

Forget the knife and the scalpel. Without making a single cut in the body, Chandran's technology can take 3D digital images of the body's insides.

In technical jargon, his is a forensic medical sciences system that integrates various modules related to forensic medical sciences. The system renders and volumises 2-D Computerized Tomography (CT) scans to form 3-D models that are stored on a server and can be sent to and navigated on remote workstations for the purposes of conducting an autopsy. An autopsy report can be automatically printed in less than a day as compared to 3-4 days through classical autopsy.

This integrated forensic medical sciences system could be handy for forensic pathologists to conduct crime scene investigation, autopsy and forensic sciences analysis using digital technologies.

In November this year, Chandran's company, iGene (an Infovalley company of which Chandran is the Group CEO) helped the UK to become the first nation in the world to establish a network of state-of-the-art, non-invasive digital autopsy facilities amounting to a total investment of £50 million [RM264 million] across 18 facilities.

Prior to the UK expansion, this platform of digital autopsy as a service was launched by the Malaysian Prime Ministers Najib Razak in October this year at the World Islamic Economic Forum. Malaysia has been so excited about this service that Chandran's company has received the highest amount of venture capital investment in Malaysian history (US$25 million) since its inception.

A long journey to the frontiers of death

Yet Chandran struggled a lot before he could find success with his digital autopsy service.

Where did it begin, I ask him one balmy morning in August when he visits Singapore.

"It's a long story," he sighs, sipping his coffee. Sitting next to him is his colleague Anu Sheela Themudu, Vice President, CEO' Office and Vice President, Human Resource & Administration, of iGene Sdn. Bhd.

 

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