Former Sagentia CEO eyes $5m Series A for disruptive robotic surgery startup
Martin Frost, the former CEO of one of Cambridge’s largest technology consultancies, Sagentia, says he expects to close a $5 million plus Series A funding round this year for a disruptive new company that aims to transform the number of surgical procedures that can be carried out using robotic systems.
Kinective Surgical launched last year and made its first patent applications this, seeking to protect what it says are four key aspects of robotic surgery. Kinetic believes it can disrupt an industry currently worth $2 billion, but which Frost says is dominated by Intuitive Surgical and its daVinci robotic system, which only addresses five per cent of the procedures possible using minimal access surgery (MAS) or endoscopic techniques.
We want to address all the procedures, Frost told Cabume, that’s in excess of 10 million operations every year. First, he says, the company will need to raise some serious VC money – robotic surgery is not a quick software play – and is believed to be looking in London and overseas, no Cambridge VCs are expected to participate.
We need to raise capital that will get us through FDA (US medical approval) as soon as possible. We are looking north of $5 million for the first round, but will seek around £30 million longer term.
The company says its system has better dexterity than human arms and greater visual acuity and precision, allowing the platform to do all existing MAS procedures without modification. The platform also uses force feedback technology, which it says restores a sense of touch to robotic surgery, as well as 3D visualisation techniques.
It also intends to use a configurable approach so hospitals can choose the elements they need rather than buy entire platforms, keeping costs down and helping meet a wider range of MAS procedures. At the moment daVinci systems can be massively expensive – last year the Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT) forked out £1.4 million for a new daVinci robotic surgeon.
That system is going in at the Robotic Prostrate Centre, where Professor David Neal, one of the world’s leading robotic prostate surgery practitioners is based. Frost says Cambridge is one of just four or five places around the world where it is possible to access the expertise needed to build a company capable of disrupting the world of robotic surgery.
Other robotic surgery expertise across the city can be found at Cambridge University, where it is pushing the envelope at its Machine Intelligence Laboratory and the Department of Engineering, which is sharing £16m for new robotics work. Then there’s the tech consultancies such as Team Consulting, Cambridge Consultants and Frost’s old haunt, Sagentia.
Frost is currently serving as Kinective’s executive chairman alongside non-executive director, Dr Bill Mason, who worked with Frost at a pre-IPO Sphere Medical. The pair are backed by a medical advisory board which consists of top laparoscopic and robotic surgeons.