Attracting new funding during a pandemic is tough – but not impossible.
The latest medical device startup to beat the funding odds is Epipole, a retinal imaging specialist that is preparing its handheld video ophthalmoscope for U.S. market introduction. The Scottish company said it has secured £1.5 million ($1.9 million) in new funding.
The financing was led by new investor Greenwood Way Capital with the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise, also participating.
Inverkeithing, UK-based Epipole is developing a technology to enable clinicians to scan a patient's retina using real-time video and then extract high quality images for further examination. Retinal cameras are typically large and costly desktop systems, but Epipole is trying to change things up in the sector with its portable design and cost-effective pricing.
“We’ve worked with ophthalmologists to test and refine features and capabilities, and will use this funding to implement the key changes needed,” said Craig Robertson, founder and CEO of Epipole (pictured above with the company's device). “We will have a particular focus on the U.S. primary care optometry and ophthalmology markets, and plan to have product available by early 2021.”
In conjunction with the funding news, Epipole announced that Ian Stevens will join its board as chairman. Stevens is an experienced technology industry executive, holding CEO positions at Scottish businesses Touch Bionics, Mpathy Medical and BioFilm. Previously, he spent nine years at leading retinal imaging company Optos, initially as CFO and then as general manager of its North American business.
Recent Funding Success in Medtech
Employees at Chicago, IL-based Augmedics made a nearly unprecedented move to raise money for the company's series B round. They formed a limited liability company to raise $4 million of a $15 million funding round in order to commercialize the company's augmented reality surgical image guidance technology.
Cue Health also reported funding success recently, raising $100 million in a series C round. Granted, Cue's pipeline of molecular diagnostic tests includes a COVID-19 test. Decheng Capital, Foresite Capital, Madrone Capital Partners, Johnson & Johnson Innovation - JJDC, ACME Capital, and other investment firms pitched in for that funding.
Another medtech startup that has been able to raise money during the pandemic is CereVasc. The company, which is developing a solution for hydrocephalus, raised nearly $44 million in series A funding. Hydrocephalus, sometimes called water on the brain, is a common condition that results from excess fluid build-up in the brain. Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Fund (an affiliate of Perceptive Advisors) and ATON Partners led the series A financing.
Bigfoot Biomedical hasn't let the coronavirus pandemic stand in its way either. If anything, CEO Jeffrey Brewer says the pandemic has "only crystalized the need for medical solutions like ours that facilitate remote care, remote support, and home delivery."
Bigfoot managed to raise a total of $55 million to close its series C equity financing. Abbott led the round with support from existing investors, including Quadrant Capital Advisors, Senvest Capital, Janus Henderson, and Cormorant Asset Management, along with new investors including Smile Group.
"Necessity has forced a giant leap forward in telemedicine, and there will be no looking back," Brewer said. "Raising $55 million in equity financing during this time of economic hardship underscores the urgency and focus on getting real-time solutions in the hands of patients, providers, and payers."