Symetis: Well-Positioned Next-Generation TAVI Player
Now among the most promising of an emerging group of second-generation transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) companies, Symetis didn’t start out that way. It began as a cell therapy company, but its initial technology failed. On the verge of running out of money, CEO Jacques Essinger, PhD, engineered a change of direction that ultimately turned Symetis into a TAVI company with the kinds of advantages that may provide it with a competitive advantage.
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Despite the dire headlines, VCs are still investing in medtech start-ups, although the deals are becoming fewer and later stage. Start-ups looking for funding have to be more creative and look beyond traditional sources of funding, according to a discussion by six European venture capitalists speaking at the IN3 meeting in Dublin in April 2013.
In September, Wellington Partners announced that it closed on €70 million ($91 million) in new venture capital, the first commitment for a fund devoted to life science investing. The target size of Wellington Partners IV Life Science Fund is €120 million, a significant increase over its previous fund devoted to the life sciences, which raised €78 million. Five years ago, this event wouldn’t even have been news, but in a world where venture capital funds are generally contracting, and specifically with regard to life sciences, Wellington offers medical device start-ups a bright spot of hope.
Now that transcatheter heart valves have been implanted in thousands of humans, it’s becoming clear where the problems lie. Vascular and bleeding complications, stroke and paravalvular leaks are the most troubling consequences. Most of the focus has been on improving the valves and the delivery systems, but now innovators are looking at the issue of access – the particular ways by which therapeutic devices enter the heart – and how it can be changed to improve outcomes. In this issue we profile Apica Cardiovascular, Entourage Medical and Inseal Medical.