PulseMedica has raised an oversubscribed $2.6-million seed round, which it largely plans to use to run its first clinical trial beginning in June.
The University of Alberta spinoff company is working on a new way to treat patients with major eye diseases. The fully automated platform it has developed uses an imaging system to capture the eye of a patient, then determines where to treat and delivers the treatment using lasers instead of injections.
PulseMedica is aiming to demonstrate the safety and accuracy of its imaging and laser delivery systems by testing it on 10 to 15 patients in Edmonton who have diabetic retinopathy.
"The purpose of this is really to help us generate this data and show it to people. We've managed to build this platform, it works ... now we can start going after all of the clinical indications, and then start commercialization," said CEO and co-founder Nir Katchinskiy.
The company-led round, which includes more than $500,000 from Startup TNT's Investment Summit IV last fall, will also help PulseMedica finish building its device as it works on getting approvals from Health Canada ahead of the clinical study.
It will continue to build out the team, too. The company has recently added six new members, including Geoffroy Rivet-Sabourin as its chief technology officer. It has also established a medical advisory board, which Katchinskiy said is key for the company's success.
"As part of this board, we brought three of the top of ophthalmologists in the world (Dr. Ike Ahmed, Dr. Matthew Tennant, Dr. Ehsan Sadri) to help us brand and shape the company, and to build our clinical studies in a way that will be recognizable by everybody else," Katchinskiy explained.
"The goal that we have right now is transforming PulseMedica from a local startup company to the global stage."
Before turning their attention entirely to the big picture, Katchinskiy, his co-founder Eric Martin, and their colleagues at PulseMedica will be "heads down" over the next couple of months.
"What we're building is a pretty complex device, with a lot of aspects to it from optics, mechanical, software, and electronics. We're doing everything from scratch and in-house, so there's a lot of work right now associated with engineering, testing, and validation," Katchinskiy said.
Nikhil Bedi, PulseMedica's senior manager of operations and business development, added that although it will be complex, the work will ultimately benefit the Edmonton ecosystem because of their approach.
"We're building the talent here in Edmonton. Hopefully PulseMedica will exit, but that talent will stay here, which is a big reason why we wanted to do this in-house," Bedi explained. "All of a sudden you have an influx of 20 to 30 people in the market who are specialized in optics or electronics for medical devices." (PulseMedica later clarified that an exit would mostly likely mean continued employment for PulseMedica's talent under new ownership.)
PulseMedica is also aiming to move into a new, bigger space this summer. The startup is currently working out of the MNP Tower in downtown Edmonton.
The company previously raised $1 million during a pre-seed round in 2020, and was further boosted by close to $1 million in grants. Once PulseMedica begins to amass some clinical data through its trial later this year, it plans on kicking off another funding raise. That round, which is likely to be a Series A, will target around US$10 million in investment.
That round would push PulseMedica towards its goal of making its technology available to clinicians by 2024.
Clarification: This story has been updated to indicate PulseMedica's expected outcome if it achieves an exit.