Canada-based Winterlight Labs has raised $4.23m (C$5.6m) through a Series A round to develop its artificial intelligence (AI) vocal technology to detect central nervous system disorders and track the efficacy of treatments.

Hikima Ventures, the venture capital arm of Hikima Pharmaceuticals, led the funding round, which also saw participation from investors such as First Star Ventures, Pacific Health Ventures and existing investor, Grey Sky Venture Partners.

Winterlight Labs is developing its AI technology that combines computational linguistics, cognitive neuroscience and machine learning to analyse the cognitive health of patients.

Winterlight’s tablet-based tool makes use of speech-based evaluation that helps healthcare experts to identify the vocal biomarkers, which serve as indicators for any cognitive changes.

Through analysis of a one-minute sample of a patient’s natural speech, Winterlight’s method can detect cognitive and mental disorders such as dementia, as well as track treatment effectiveness.

Hikma Ventures managing director Lana Ghanem said: “We are very excited to enter into the field of vocal diagnostics by leading the investment in Winterlight Labs.

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“We recognise the global potential of voice analysis for the diagnosis, monitoring and ongoing treatment of various diseases and look forward to working with the team and our co-investors to help advance the technology and expand disease areas and geographies covered, especially in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Proceeds from the funding will be used to extend Winterlight’s technology to add other indications, such as schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis.

Hikma Ventures invests in emerging companies in the digital health market, with the potential to boost its market intelligence and future pipeline.