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Icelandic startup nets $100M for developing medical devices from fish skin

Kerecis founder
Image credits: Kerecis

Icelandic startup Kerecis, which develops medical devices from fish skin and fatty acids, has recently scored $100 million in Series D funding. The investment was led by KIRKBI, the family holding and investment company behind LEGO Group (that backed Epic Games), which invested $40 million in cash in exchange for newly issued shares. It was supported by several existing shareholders, including Icelandic pension funds LSV and BRU and Silicon Valley’s Emerson Collective.

The co-investors contributed an additional $20 million in cash for the newly issued shares and $10 million of existing convertible promissory notes were converted into equity. Furthermore, the Silicon Valley Bank provided an extension and increased the company´s existing revolving credit facility to $30 million. With this round, Kerecis is valued at $620 million.

Growth plans

The financing will be used to accelerate the growth and development of Kerecis’ patented medical-fish-skin products that are sourced from sustainable fishing grounds near the Arctic Circle.

“Kerecis is a highly innovative company that has built a successful business transforming waste material into unique medical products,” said Niklas Sjöblom, Senior Director, Long-Term Equity, KIRKBI. “We are particularly inspired by the company’s approach to sustainability, as we are responsible investors and owners. We are excited to support the company’s continued growth and strategic objectives to improve patient outcomes”.

“This funding and new partnership with KIRKBI is a great step forward for Kerecis, and we are truly motivated by the investment KIRKBI and the other participants are making,” said Fertram Sigurjonsson, Founder and CEO of Kerecis. “As we continue to grow, we will be able to help thousands more patients around the world with our sustainably sourced products. It is our mission to become the world leader in tissue regeneration by sustainably harnessing nature’s own remedies,” he added.

Develops medical-fish-skin products

Founded by Fertram Sigurjonsson in 2009 in Iceland, Kerecis develops products from fish skin and fatty acids for cellular therapy, tissue regeneration, and protection. The fish skin used in Kerecis products derives from wild and sustainable fish stock caught in pristine Icelandic waters and processed with 100% renewable energy in the town of Isafjordur, close to the Arctic Circle.

As there is no disease-transfer risk between cold-water fish and humans, the Kerecis fish skin is gently processed to retain its similarity to human tissue. The gentle processing preserves the skin’s original three-dimensional structure, maintaining its inherent natural strength, complexity, and molecules such as fatty acids. When grafted onto damaged human tissue or implanted, the patented material uses the body’s own cells and converts itself into living tissue.

As per clinical studies, Kerecis’ products heal wounds faster than competing products. It is touted to be the only approved manufacturer of medical devices containing intact fish skin globally. Also, Kerecis is a fast-growing company in the biologics-skin and dermal-substitute market.

Its expanding product portfolio includes MariGen, which is sold to private offices and wound centres to treat diabetic and other chronic wounds; GraftGuide, which is mostly sold to burn centres; and SurgiBind/SurgiClose, which are used for reconstructive surgery in operating rooms and the first implantable fish-skin graft used in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

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