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London Tech Week

Softbank invests in $165M round of British unicorn behind Versius, the next-gen surgical robot

CMR Surgical Versius
Picture credits: CMR Surgical

Reportedly, the global medical robots market grew from $11.17 billion in 2022 to $13.25 billion in 2023 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.6%. Besides this, the global soft-tissue robotic-assisted MAS market is estimated to be worth over $7 billion per annum and is growing at over 15% per annum.

A medical robot is an expert service robot that refers to a type of multipurpose device used to raise the standard of care provided to patients. A subset of these robots, surgical robots are employed in complicated surgical procedures, limb replacement, stroke patient rehabilitation, and other health-related duties.

One of the well-known surgical robotics startups is Cambridge-based CMR Surgical. Now, the company has closed $165 million fundraising led by its major existing investors, including Ally Bridge Group, Cambridge Innovation Capital, Escala Capital, LGT, Lightrock, RPMI Railpen, SoftBank Vision Fund 2 (which recently invested in Cato Networks), Tencent (that backed Curacel and Broken String Biosciences) and Watrium.

The fresh capital will be used to drive continued product innovation, including new technological developments, and to support the further commercialisation of the system in key existing, and new, geographies. CMR’s vision is to make MAS universally accessible, rapidly increasing the number of robotic-assisted procedures that take place globally.

Supratim Bose, Chief Executive Officer at CMR Surgical, said: “I am incredibly proud of our teams and what CMR stands for as we pass this latest milestone and work towards our vision of making minimal access surgery available to everyone. The benefits of MAS for patients are enormous and I am excited to see the continued adoption of Versius around the world, and the positive impact it is having on hospitals, surgeons, and, ultimately, their patients.

Umur Hursever, Lightrock and Chairman at CMR Surgical commented: “At Lightrock, we are committed to supporting innovators who make a positive contribution to humanity and the planet. We have always been impressed by not only CMR’s product, Versius, but also its exceptional people. CMR is one of those innovators who are blazing its own trail with Versius, a differentiated robotic experience that democratises robotic surgery both procedurally and geographically. With this latest raise, we are delighted to be supporting CMR in its mission to make robotic keyhole surgery available to everyone.”

Versius, the next-gen surgical robot

Founded by Luke Hares, Mark Slack, and Martin Frost in 2014, CMR Surgical has built the first made-in-Britain surgical robot – Versius. It helps surgeons perform keyhole surgery by mimicking the human arm and allowing greater precision, accuracy, and dexterity.

Versius fits into virtually any operating room set-up and integrates seamlessly into existing workflows, increasing the likelihood of robotic minimal access surgery (MAS). The small, portable and modular design of Versius allows the surgeon to only use the number of arms needed for a given procedure.

Versius gives surgeons the choice of optimised port placement alongside the dexterity and accuracy of small fully-wristed instruments. With 3D HD vision, easy-to adopt instrument control and a choice of ergonomic working positions, the open surgeon console has the potential to reduce stress and fatigue and allows for clear communication with the surgical team.

“More and more surgeons and patients are benefiting from Versius and our latest funding round will allow us to serve even more customers, supporting our continued growth in existing markets, as well as expansion into new key markets. Versius’ unique versatility and differentiated offering, enabled by its patented V-wrist technology, continues to receive positive feedback from hospitals and surgical teams. We are inspired by its potential to change the way the world receives surgical care,” continued Bose.

Real-life applications

The Versius Surgical Robotic System has now been used to perform over 15,000 surgical cases globally in more than 20 countries and across a wide range of surgical specialties including general, urological, gynaecological and thoracic. Also, these procedures have been conducted in various hospitals, including globally-renowned research hospitals such as Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (UK).

Mr Adam Peryt, Consultant Thoracic Surgeon at Royal Papworth Hospital commented: “Versius is very well suited to our needs as a world-leading thoracic surgery department. We have successfully helped patients get the benefit of robotic assisted surgery and we look forward to developing our robotics programme working with CMR and other centres around the world as the adoption of Versius continues.”

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