Stories - Investment Trends Q1 Q2 2021: A financial health check-up
Last year, in the investments sphere, venture capital investors focused on digital health startups, rewarding mostly innovations with novel treatments for coronavirus or technologies to promote home care. So far, 2021 is following the same trend: the EIC already counts 5 startups raising Digital Health VC funding. During a short and sweet conversation, the companies Smart4Diagnostics, VB Devices and Learning to Sleep shared the stories and ambitions behind their investments. Discover our chats below.
Smart4Diagnostics: €5M to data-driven preanalytics
In May 2021, the German HealthTech startup S4DX announced a €5M Series A round of funding from private investors, including SARSTEDT AG & Co. KG, as well as the EIC Fund, established in 2020 by the European Commission for direct equity investment in breakthrough technologies.
Smart4Diagnostics (S4DX) has developed the world’s first “digital human sample data-fingerprint” for human blood samples in preanalytics. The innovation, developed by the Munich-based startup, detects and reduces pre-preanalytical errors at sample collection when patients are still present.
According to the CEO of Smart4Diagnostics, Hans Heyn, S4DX also gained a world-leading partner with this funding round, one with a background very similar to the startup. “Our partner SARSTEDT started 60 years ago in a garage. The CEO had an idea and started the implementation at his garage. The good thing is that innovation is repeated. While one company started in a garage, we started at a kitchen table, but obviously now our innovation has a different scope.”
While 60 years ago SARSTEDT created plastic tubes with new methods for preanalytics, today Smart4Diagnostics is digitizing the exact same tubes. “A world-leading company like SARSTEDT and Smart4Diagnostics really fit together and this partnership was enabled by the EIC Fund, by de-risking such investment rounds, but also supplying finance, expertise and thus speeding up the whole process”, added Hans.
The CEO is convinced that one of the learnings brought by the pandemic is that laboratories are at the centre and the world needs better data, 100% controlled. The funding round arrived at the right time and will allow S4DX to sell, scale and penetrate the market with their data-driven preanalytics. “We want to bring a European innovation to the European market to the benefit of European patients, and in the end bring trustworthy results patient by patient, test by test and tube by tube.”
VB Devices: €1.1 million to a new foam device for the treatment of varicose veins
The EIC-funded startup VB Devices has raised more than $488,000 (€400,000) between new investors and current partners and more than $733,000 (€600,000) from more than 200 new investors in Capital Cell. The company’s main product is Varixio: a device launched last year in Europe that aims to become a global reference for the treatment of varicose veins.
The pathology affects around a quarter of adults and the traditional surgical treatment has given way to minimally invasive procedures, increasing the chances of infection and other adverse effects. To tackle these difficulties, a growing number of doctors are adopting foam sclerotherapy for treating varicose veins non-invasively, but the foam is still prepared manually, posing significant challenges for practitioners. In 2016, the Barcelona-based vascular surgeon Enric Roche patented an approach for automating the foam preparation process. This resulted in a portable device called VARIXIO, developed by the Spanish start-up VB Devices, of which Grego and Roche are co-founders.
Alexandra Kurz is responsible for Marketing and Business Development at VB Devices and explained us how the company will use this investment round. “We will use the money from this investment round of around 1.1M€ for various points. We want to upscale VARIXIO manufacturing to optimize Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), we are aiming to promote a commercial launch, participating in congresses and events, while accelerating our international expansion, including regulatory services to access the US market”, she concluded.
Learning to Sleep: digital sleep treatment raised 12MSEK (€1.2M)
In March, the Swedish startup Learning to Sleep has raised 12MSEK with a new funding round to support its expansion on the Swedish market and to prepare for an IPO in late 2021. The main innovation from this EIC-funded company is an online solution for helping people affected by insomnia and poor sleep.
Given that pharmacological solutions such as sleeping pills are not effective and sleep therapy is very expensive, there are few ways for people to seek help. Learning to Sleep is an online treatment developed by sleep experts versed in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It helps people get better anytime and anywhere through a therapeutic program available on mobile devices and the web. Last year, the startup achieved 113 percent growth and now is aiming to prepare an international expansion.
According to Micael Gustafsson, CEO of Learning to Sleep, the funding will support the company’s growth in Sweden, but will also contribute to their preparation for an international launch in the EU and US. “Our first step is to establish ourselves as number 1 on sleep treatment in Sweden, which in fact already happened since we have today over 1000 sessions with patients per month. Our second step will be setting up testbeds/pilots in at least two other European countries during autumn. If they are successful, we will raise another 25 MSEK (€2.5M) in December to continue our internationalisation”, he concluded.