Three of Eagle Ventures’ last five portfolio companies where it raised equity were the first rounds of professional investment for medical device startups emanating from the University of Pittsburgh or Carnegie Mellon University.
All three have ‘breakthrough’ products. All three are in the market:
1) ALung Technologies (www.ALung.com) 2010: $12 million raised for Series A; 2015: $6 million of convertible debt raised
ALung entered the European, Canadian and Australian markets on a limited basis in 2013. The Company has developed a breakthrough respiratory assist technology known as the HemoLung™.
Key points of ALung’s value proposition are:
- The HemoLung™ is expected to provide avoidance of ventilator (respirator) support and associated intubation (tube down a patient’s throat) and sedation for patients
with acute exacerbation of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD; usually older ambulatory patients with severe emphysema, asthma, etc.). It is expected to be a supplement
to accelerate healing for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS; lungs injured from truma, explosions, fire, or chemicals).
- Instead of the ventilator, the HemoLung™ allows the patient to eat, walk and talk while having a relatively small catheter inserted in a vein providing respiratory
dialysis (similar to kidney dialysis). Payback to the hospital is three weeks.
- The HemoLung™ is expected to allow as much as up to 60%
(i.e., most all COPD patients) of those who would otherwise use a ventilator, to avoid it. The HemoLung™ has been used on over 600 patients. In all cases, the HemoLung™ performed as expected with no adverse events by the system reported.
2) Medrobotics Corporation (www.Medrobotics.com) 2009 and 2010: $9 million raised for Series A; $5 million for Series B, all from the same group as that of Series A.
The Company has developed a unique platform technology that addresses many of the limitations of first generation surgical robotic systems. Medrobotics received FDA clearance to enter the U.S.
market to be used by surgeons to perform ear, nose, and throat (ENT) procedures.
Its patented minimally invasive surgery (MIS) platform, the Flex™ Robotic System, is able to reach deeply-sited anatomical locations that are inaccessible by other MIS systems through a single point of entry.
The Company’s management believes this System represents the cutting-edge of an exciting second generation in surgical robotics.
- Unlike the daVinci medical robot system, Medrobotics’ System can twist and turn in free space like a snake, including being able to tightly encircle a small can of soda. A physician safely guides it inside the body, over, around and behind organs, guided by a fiber-optic camera in its nose. When the robot reaches the surgical site, the physician inserts various surgical tools in the rear of the robot that slide to and outside the snake’s nose to perform the procedure.
- Having proven itself safe in ENT procedures, Medrobotics gained FDA clearance in 2015. the company’s second application to the FDA is for colo-rectal procedures.
- With future regulatory approvals, it is possible that Medrobotics’ System will enable many major surgeries
in the torso, from the hips to the neck, to be done using an MIS approach.
3) Cohera Medical (www.CoheraMed.com) 2007: $6 million raised in a Series A
Cohera manufactures and sells the world’s only biocompatible adhesive that has the strength of superglue. The Company received FDA approval to enter the U.S. market in 2016.
Cohera has developed a urethane adhesive for human tissue that represents a dramatic breakthrough in both critical and surgical care. By making minor changes to the chemical structure, Cohera can create formulations with a variety of properties suitable for different surgical uses. Prior to its creation, adhesives used inside the body were more like sealants and had the tackiness of a Post-it.
- Cohera’s initial product, TissuGlu™, is targeted toward deep wounds in muscle tissue, an area of high need given the ineffectiveness of traditional sutures in muscle. In comparative use, TissuGlu™ has been shown to virtually
eliminate seroma formation, (accumulation of fluids requiring post-surgical drains to be used) the primary reason for using post-surgical drains in many surgeries.
- Cohera’s next product (undergoing clinical trials), FlexSeal™, is expected to be even more of a breakthrough in addressing surgical complications on the bowel by significantly reducing the incidence of post-surgical leaks and their severe consequences. All of Cohera’s products are strong, biocompatible, resorbable, and non-toxic – properties that no current tissue adhesive on the market can match.
- Cohera’s most recent financing in 2015 was a first tranche of $50 million equity financing led by KKR (Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts), a leading global investment firm, with participation from existing private investors.
The other two of Eagle Ventures’ last five portfolio companies where it raised equity involved later rounds of professional investments.
1) Wright Therapy Products (www.WrightTherapy.com) 2012: raised $3 million in Series B
Wright Therapy Products is a medical device company that had a unique solution forlymphedema, a condition that causes one to have one or more swollen limbs arising from lymph fluid not properly flowing from an extremity to the body. Wright is deploying the funds raised by Eagle Ventures to grow revenue.
Wright has a superior solution in the marketplace and has plans to introduce product innovations that will increase its competitive advantage. In 2015, Wright was acquired by the U.S. subsidiary of BSN Medical, a global leader in the worldwide healthcare market specializing in the areas of compression therapy and wound care.
2) pihms: raised $3.5 million in Series A
pihms has an enterprise-wide productivity tool that focuses on best practices for tracking, measuring and managing human capital. The Company’s unique (and patented) process takes employee leave, safety, and case management information from disparate sources and delivers it to the right decision makers at the right time. The Company was sold to Aetna Insurance Company in 2012.
Acquiring Existing Manufacturing Companies
DAWAR Technologies (www.Dawar.com)
In 1997, Eagle Ventures and its partners acquired DAWAR Technologies, a 120 year-old company located in Pittsburgh. The Company was on the top three floors of an eighty year-old, eight story building. It had historically been a print shop. Upon acquisition, it was printing membrane switches (electrical touch pads like those found on microwave ovens) by screen-printing electrically-conductive ink on polycarbonate plastic.
Since the acquisition, the Company hired professional management, created a formalized sales and marketing process/program, moved to a single-floor facility, converted most of its
operations over to automated equipment, and became ISO-certified. The Company now manufactures touchscreens and membrane switches and is the sole supplier to a number of companies in the Pittsburgh area.
In 2012, it had $12 million of revenue and is profitable. Eagle sold its interest in Dawar in 2015.
The Spring Team, a manufacturer of springs for small applications such as flashlights, precise equipment, pens, etc. Eagle and it partners owned The Spring Team for seven years, significantly growing its revenue and profits before selling it in a management-led buyout. Its story is similar to that of DAWAR Technologies.
Other Eagle Ventures Investments
Allegheny Container, a corrugated box company, was sold profitably after 14 years of ownership, during which time revenue grew to $8 million with commensurate profits. Its story is also similar to that of DAWAR Technologies.
VEC Technologies was a startup funded with $11 million by Eagle and its partners. After five years in the startup/initial market penetration phase, Eagle and its partners
sold it to Genmar, formerly the largest boat manufacturer in the world.