Newest Medtech Startups, and I do mean MEDTECH

Since you’re reading this, I am going to assume you have some interest in medical technology, and just to make it bluntly obvious, I’m going to hammer a definition of it so you know exactly what I mean and what I don’t mean. Why I do this will become clear, but simply put, it’s to keep me from going insane.

In the most liberal definition of “medical technology” (which can still be restrictive, as I’ll mention below), I mean “the adaptation of scientific knowledge to the practical application of medicine”.  In your travels, I am certain you have come across uses of the term “medtech” that seem expansively broad, such as those that are simply the application of virtually any kind of technology to medicine.

If you call your doctor, does that make your phone a medtech device? What about surgical gloves, since they’re really just gloves? Ah, but what about surgical gloves coated with a material that prevents formation of post-surgical adhesions? Then, too, what about devices for wireless transmission of BP, pulse, pCO2 and other vital signs — are they just glorified telephones?

The point is that there is a wide range of perspectives that may variously be brought to bear when considering medtech and, since not everyone has the same perspective, it’s important to understand which perspective is in play.

Today, I saw a post about “medtech” companies at this year’s SXSW conference. Intrigued, I read on, only to find that most of these are technologies that have been applied to medical applications (and some not even that), but are for the most part not “medical technologies”:

  • a medication compliance device that chimes when doses are missed
  • a thermometer that connects to your iPhone or Android device
  • a smart diaper that monitors select analytes to potentially reveal UTIs, type 1 diabetes, dehydration, etc.
  • motion sensor-enabled underwear with micro-airbags to reduce injuries from falls in elderly
  • shoes to reduce the risk of plantar fasciitis, complications from diabetic neuropathy, etc.
  • wearable baby monitor to detect ambient temperature, posture and movement
  • mobile device to connect patients with mental health professionals
  • cloud-based service to connect individuals to the health/wellness resources of their employers

(Of course, the bottom line for many is whether the FDA or any other relevant governing body would consider a device a “medical device” or would otherwise conclude that its function, design or application is such that it must be regulated as a medical device, but even under that sort of all encompassing consideration, many of the above technologies would not likely be called “medical devices”. However, it’s not my definition that matters in those cases; it’s the FDA’s.)

I’m not placing a judgment that these devices are somehow inferior — not my point at all.  I have no doubt that there are countless non-medical technologies that can be applied to medical applications to create huge demand and/or solve big problems.  I just have to draw the line somewhere as I seek to describe, characterize and analyze an already large universe of innovations — I’ll leave the analysis of iPhone-enabled or otherwise information technology-centered devices to those who are better suited to the task. (If, in addition to the implants, surgical devices and range of other technologies requiring a physician to actually use, I had to also analyze any of those iPhone-enabled widgets, I would go mad.) My focus is instead on innovations that are intrinsically medical applications of knowledge that have been developed to improve outcomes, tap unmet patient demand, reduce healthcare costs or otherwise improve healthcare delivery. 

Fundamentally, these are technologies that have been developed to reduce symptoms, hasten recovery from disease or trauma (surgically-induced or otherwise), facilitate the removal of malignant tissue, restore normal organ or system function, facilitate the ongoing management of chronic disease, provide differential diagnostic information to facilitate courses of treatment, and many, many similar. By now, you should have a sense of what technology I would consider “medical” and what technology may have a medical application but which is not itself “medical”.

So what? Well, to be very specific, these are the most recent additions of startup companies to our Medtech Startups Database:

CompanyProduct/technology
Medallion Therapeutics, Inc.Targeted, localized drug delivery
PB&B S.A.Use of biomaterials in aesthetics for non-surgical temporary & permanent breast and buttock enhancement, facial rejuvination solutions and adipose tissue engineering related therapies.
TS3 Medical, Inc.Vascular drill to cross chronic total obstructions (CTOs) and facilitate balloon angioplasty and stenting.
SynerZ Medical, Inc.Developing a device that mimics the actions of gastric bypass surgery for the treatment of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
Biotrace Medical, Inc.Temporary cardiac pacing as treatment for reversible symptomatic bradycardia.
Rbpark, LLCEmbolectomy devices
NeuroTek Medical, Inc.Non-invasive, migraine therapy device worn on the back of the head at the onset of or during a migraine to relieve pain.
RegenEye, LLCOcular stent for treating age-based vision changes.
Reveal Optical, LLCOphthalmic device company focusing on age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, hemianopia, and glaucoma.
Mimedis AGCustom surgical implants including using 3D printing.
Socrates Health Solutions, Inc.Noninvasive blood glucose monitor.
Gecko BiomedicalBiodegradable sealants and adhesives in surgery.

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC

Entrepreneurs have for years been relentlessly conceiving and implementing innovations for therapeutics and diagnostics that leverage the advances in materials sciences and the individual and combined gains in understanding the onset, development and intervention to palliate, cure or otherwise eliminate disease.  Developments such as these have had a profound impact on patients’ lives and the costs (of all kinds) in the end result. 

Combine these medtech developments with other non-medtech developments in additional innovative ways and an even bigger impact can be made. 

New fundings in medical technology, March 2014

Fundings for medical technology in March 2014 stand at $593 million, led by the $101 million raised by Golden Meditech Holdings Ltd and the $75 million IPO funding of Lumenis. Below is a list of the month’s top fundings to date:

Company fundingProduct/technology
Golden Meditech Holdings Ltd has raised $101 million in a round of funding according to press reportsAutologous blood recovery products as well as healthcare services
Lumenis Ltd has raised $75 million in an initial public offering according to the companyRF and light-based ablation devices in ophthalmology, surgery and aesthetics
Unilife Corporation has secured $60 million in debt funding, according to the companyDrug delivery devices
Alphatec’s Spine, Inc., has raised $50 million in a round of funding, according to the companyDevices for the treatment of spine disease and trauma
NinePoint Medical, Inc., has raised $38.56 million of a planned $50 million round of funding according to a regulatory filingIn vivo, high resolution imaging via optical coherence tomography
Invuity, Inc., has raised $36 million in a Series E round of funding according to the companyTechnologies to improve access and visualization in minimally invasive surgeries
EarLens Corp. has raised $36 million of a planned $38 million round of funding according to press reportsInfrared-based hearing aid

For the complete list of medtech fundings during March 2014, see link.

For a full list of the fundings in medtech, by month, since 2009, see link.

Technologies at medtech startups in February-January 2014

Below is a list of the technologies under development at startups recently identified and included in the Medtech Startups Database:

  • Ophthalmology prescreening technology for detection of diabetic retinopathy, cataract, glaucoma, cornea problems and refractive errors.
  • Tissue engineered scaffolds to generate synthetic tracheas.
  • Embolectomy devices
  • Resorbable embolization material for use in interventional radiology and drug delivery.
  • Tissue attachment technology
  • Devices and procedures to improve nasal breathing.
  • Devices for minimally invasive, augmentative or reconstructive mastopexy.
  • Ocular stent for treating age-based vision changes.
  • Ophthalmic device company focusing on age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, hemianopia, and glaucoma.
  • Neuroscience-based technology (neuromodulation) for enhancing performance on cognitive tasks, for the healthy and impaired.
  • Portable, ultrasound-based device non-invasive, transcranial diagnosis of stroke.
  • Temporary cardiac pacing as treatment for reversible symptomatic bradycardia.
  • Product to improve treatment of kidney stones and product to reduce pneumonia in intubated patient and ventilated patients in the ICU.
  • Biometric medical device for orthopedic and other diagnostic applications.
  • Technologies for treating urological conditions and disorders.
  • Use of biomaterials in aesthetics for non-surgical temporary & permanent breast and buttock enhancement, facial rejuvination solutions and adipose tissue engineering related therapies.

For a historical listing of medtech startup technologies, see link.