Galen Robotics raises $15M to bring its robotic surgery platform to market

Steven Loeb · November 1, 2022 · Short URL:

The company developed a surgical robotic assistant that can be ready in less than 15 minutes

There are numerous benefits of having a robot assist in surgery: due to their small size, they can go places that a human can't easily get to, while using high-definition cameras to give surgeons a more accurate view of the operating area. This has benefits for the patient: one study found that robotic surgery reduced the chance of readmission by 52%, and 77% reduction in the prevalence of blood clots. 

Unfortunately, there are a number of areas of surgery which are have not yet been served by this technology, Dave Saunders, CTO and co-founder of Galen Robotics, a Digital-Surgery-as-a-Service company, told VatorNews; that includes soft tissue surgeons, performing narrow corridor, minimally invasive procedures, who need a surgical assistant that was optimized for their parts of the body.

That is what Galen is now offering them: the company developed a surgical robotic assistant that can be wheeled into an OR and be ready to go in under 15 minutes to aid surgeons in ergonomically challenging procedures.

"Our surgical robot is intended to assist in areas where there are no other surgical robots for those surgeons doing those procedures. While there are many surgical robots on the market today, no robot can do all things, and all robots are engineered around a specific step in a procedure, like with cutting the end of a femur for a knee implant, or around a range a procedures in a part of the body, like laparoscopic surgery in the abdomen," said Saunders.

"Our goal is to meet some of the unmet needs currently evident in this growing industry."

The company is ready to go to market as soon as it's able, having recently submitted a new collaborative soft tissue surgical robot to the FDA for consideration, and now it has a new $15 million funding round from Ambix Healthcare Partners to help make that happen once that clearance comes through.

To use Galen's device, a surgeon takes one of the instruments they’d already be using and attaches it to the robot’s arm with an instrument adapter that Galen has designed. They then hold and use the instrument as they normally would; the robot follows their hand, but the instrument is more stable compared to when held free-hand, and it can be held stationary by the robot while a surgeon uses another instrument.

"This basically gives the surgeon a third hand that can move when needed and also 'hold steady' while never getting tired," explained Saunders.

Once it is able to go to market, the company will initially focus on laryngological procedures, though it plans to will expand the scope of the platform into other areas, including ENT, neurosurgery, spine, and cardiothoracic procedures.

Laryngeal and vocal chord surgery is the first indication that the company has sought clearance for because it offers a great opportunity to demonstrate the utility of this platform, Saunders said.

"These procedures are performed with long instruments down the throat and are very challenging from an ergonomic and dexterity standpoint. If you then consider other types of delicate procedures which are also performed through small openings or incisions, using long instruments and a surgical microscope, you should be able to infer similar benefits to what we expect to show through this first procedure," he explained.

In addition to the surgical areas it is creating solutions for, Galen also differentiates itself from others in the robotic surgery space by deploying what it calls an on-demand business model, rather than hospitals paying up front for capital equipment; this change was necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused hospital profits to go down as elective surgeries were postponed.

"Most of the medtech industry is currently driven by large capital expenditures. These typically require a longer sale cycle and with post-Covid budget constraints, it can be difficult for lower revenue department to get the attention they need for new technology," said Saunders.

"We anticipate our paper use sales model to be more attractive with respect to today's economic constraints at hospitals. The specific design of our robot allows us to manufacture it at a much lower cost than most robots in the market today, and that allows us to deal with our carry expense when placing robots at hospitals and not book any upfront revenue."

The Series A helped complete the final robot prototype, and Galen's submission to FDA; the funding will also be used to building out its team, including developing a clinical sales team, expanding engineering, growing product development, and developing surgeon training programs. The company currently has roughly 40 employees and intends to double that over the next 12 to 18 months.

The company also isn't done raising money just yet; to accommodate anticipated demand for its technology, and to help manage the COVID-affected supply-chain, the company opened a second close for the Series A funding round for an additional $5 million.

"As we continue to develop this platform technology, we hope to see it used in multiple surgical departments and support surgeries in a wide variety of surgical procedures, where no other robotic technology exists today," said Saunders.

"Eventually, they should allow us to develop additional apps and accessories for the robot, which are directed to specific procedures, but can be delivered more economically than what you would normally expect in this industry, which is to build an entire robotic platform around a single procedure."

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