Wednesday 12 December 2018

AuriGen kicks off new funding round to develop irregular heartbeat device

Tony O’Halloran and AuriGen Medical chief executive Dr John Thompson
Tony O’Halloran and AuriGen Medical chief executive Dr John Thompson

Fearghal O'Connor

Irish medical devices startup AuriGen Medical is looking to rapidly accelerate development with a brand new fundraising round among Irish and US venture capital companies. Management at the company are set to travel to the US next week in a bid to continue raising the huge amounts of money it will need to allow sufferers of irregular heartbeats to benefit from the highly innovative technology it has developed.

Chief executive Dr John Thompson told the Sunday Independent that the company will also target angel investors and a number of high-net-worth individuals in the new funding round. The news comes after the announcement last week that AuriGen had beaten off stiff competition from around Europe to win a €2.5m funding boost from the EU-backed Horizon 2020 SME funding scheme.

The NUI Galway spinout company specialises in the treatment of persistent atrial fibrillation patients - which is the most common form of irregular heartbeat - and is developing the first cardiac implant to treat both the stroke and heart failure risk associated with the condition.

The tiny device is inserted into a patient's arm and travels to the heart via a vein to stop an irregular heartbeat, a condition that affects about 10 million people in Europe alone.

The company was established by Thompson - a former intensive care physician - and experienced medical devices engineer Tony O'Halloran after they met through NUI Galway's BioInnovate Ireland Programme.

Thompson said bringing the device to market will cost "tens and tens of millions and will take the next three or four years of development before it will be anywhere near being approved."

"We have a great opportunity to create a company here in Galway where there is a fantastic local environment and a number of big multinationals from the sector like Medtronic and Boston Scientific," said Thompson. "The traditional route for a startup like ours in the medical devices sector would be to look to be acquired but we are looking at whether there is an opportunity for us to have a viable business, create employment and have a sustainable company."

"We would look at both opportunities and see what is right for the company at the time but myself and Tony invented this technology and brought it this far and it would be fantastic to be able to bring it all the way to market and to see patients benefiting from it. It's about seeing your baby grow up and go out into the world."

Sunday Indo Business

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