Augmedics, a pioneer in augmented reality surgical image guidance, recently announced they raised $36 million in Series C funding. The oversubscribed funding came eight months after the company closed a $15 million Series B funding, bringing the total funding to date to $63 million. Augmedics, along with the company President and Chief Commercial Officer, Tim Murawski, have been making disruptive innovations in MedTech. These innovations have attracted investment firms like H.I.G. Capital, Revival Healthcare Capital, and Almeda Ventures. These investors led the funding round with two strategic investors: HCA Healthcare’s Health Insight Capital and existing investor XR Invest.
The company commenced financing for Series B in the third quarter of 2019 and intended to close the round by the second quarter of 2020. This was to follow the successful launch of its ground-breaking xvision Spine System in 2020. To keep operations going while looking for a lead Venture Capital, the company raised SAFE investments (simple agreement for future equity). They had received many venture capital bids and were about to make a final investment decision. It was around this period the COVID-19 pandemic brought investor activity to a halt. The pandemic, coupled with a delay in elective treatments like spine surgery, forced Augmedics to develop novel ways to launch its product.
Motivated by their continual success, the company’s mission, and the employees’ enthusiasm, Tim Murawski led a remarkable effort to raise funds internally. The employees were passionate about the technology and future of the business. This led them to commit to securing the company and propel its successful commercial launch.
In a joint effort with their families, the 20 American employees put in $5 million through AUG Management LLC. Existing investors AO Invest and Terralab Ventures contributed $3.2 million to the funding round, and unnamed investors converted the remaining $7.8 million SAFE notes.
By December 2019, Augmedics announced U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance and the launch of its xvision Spine System (XVS) in the United States. The XVS is the first, and only, FDA-approved augmented reality surgical image guidance system.
In the second half of 2020, Augmedics began sales of the xvision Spine system in the United States. By the end of the year, the system had been used in over 250 spine procedures. The company planned to use the funds to expand to new markets in the United States and abroad. They also intended to develop the next generation of products and acquire CE approval for European sales.
The company’s flagship xvision Spine System is designed to transform surgery by providing surgeons with the information they need right in their field of vision. The aim is to build technological confidence in the surgical workflow and assist them in performing their tasks.
Medical professionals use the xvision spine to visualize the 3D spinal anatomy during medical procedures as though they have “x-ray vision.” It allows surgeons to navigate instruments and implants while looking at the patient accurately, rather than a remote screen.
The xvision consists of a transparent near-eye display headset and all the components of a standard navigation system. It precisely detects the position of surgical equipment in real-time and then overlaps a virtual track on the CT data of the patient.
The 3D navigation data is then projected onto the surgeon’s retina via the headset. This allows the Surgeon to look at the patient and observe the navigation data at the same time without glancing away from the patient.
The innovative design gives surgeons better control and imagery, resulting in more accessible, faster, and safer surgeries. This result is in line with the mission of Augmedics to provide surgeons with more control by introducing High-tech advancements. These advancements are tailored to their needs and can be integrated into their existing workflow.
Beyond spinal surgery, Augmedics intends to investigate other surgical applications for xvision. The system’s small footprint, low cost, and fit with current instruments make it easy to integrate into any surgical center anywhere in the globe.
“We are a problem-solving team,” said Tim Murawski, president, and chief operating officer of Augmedics. “Our company’s innovation and insight began when Augmedics was founded to tackle a problem our founder witnessed in the operating room. And it continues to run through every employee who works to make the vision a reality. The global pandemic was just another challenge for us to overcome as a team. We believe it has only made the company stronger.”
“The dedication of our team and the leadership of President and CCO, Tim Murawski is second to none. Their work is outdone only by the incredible innovation that they continue to demonstrate in the lab, in the field, and at the board table.” Augmedics’ founder and CEO, Nissan Elimelech, remarked. “Even in these difficult times, the amount of money contributed by Augmedics personnel to continue operations demonstrates how much they believe in what we are doing – in the technology, strategy, and leadership.”
Recently, using the augmented reality headset, the first spinal surgery that combined augmented reality and robotics took place. Dr. Poelstra and his team completed the posterior lumbar fusion procedure on a patient. The process used a combination of Medtronic’s Mazor X robotic platform integrated with Augmedics’ xvision. It usually is an invasive and extensive surgery that takes between six and seven hours. However, this patient’s treatment using the xvision headset and the Mazor X robot took just under two hours.
The surgeon and his team utilized the xvision headset to locate and pinpoint where to place the implants more accurately. Addressing this issue has minimized surgery time.
Renowned hospitals and surgical centers across the United States now use the Augmedics xvision Spine System. The feedback from surgeons indicates that the system aids in providing confident and efficient patient care.
With 20 years of developing, managing, and leading various companies in the medical and healthcare industry. Tim Murawski is on the front line of the design and development of disruptive technology in the robotic surgery market. He has found it exciting to be a part of cutting-edge technology that strives to make surgery manageable.