University of Iowa startup and medical device developer iotaMotion Inc. has raised $2 million in a seed financing round to fuel the development of novel robotic systems for cochlear implantation surgery.
The company says its technology, based on research within the UI Carver College of Medicine's Department of Otolaryngology, will enable surgeons to achieve more precise, individualized solutions for patients experiencing various types of hearing loss. IOTA-Soft is the brand name for the company's robotic-assisted insertion device, which will allow surgeons to advance cochlear implant electrodes with the precision of robotics. The company says the controlled insertion will allow for less surgical variability in outcomes and results, helping to protect existing structures from the damage of manual insertion. This is especially critical when working with hybrid hearing solutions where the patient has retained residual hearing capacity.
"We've completed our seed round, raising over $2 million within a few months from friends and family in the Midwest and around the world," said Chris Kaufmann, M.D., an otolaryngology resident at the UI and founder of iotaMotion. "The reception and excitement from both the cochlear implant community and strategic investors is a testament to the clear clinical need and the surgeon-centric robotics-assisted systems we are developing. The funds will be used to further our development efforts for the IOTA-Soft robotic-assisted cochlear implant insertion system."
Marlan Hansen, M.D., professor of otolaryngology and co-founder of iotaMotion, added: "The core technology being developed at iotaMotion is notable in its simplified approach to robotic-assisted systems. Our aim is to develop devices that open up access to cochlear implant surgery for a wider audience of both surgeons and patients. We are especially grateful for the local and regional support that we received early on from the University of Iowa, and the state, to help us get to this point."
The company was spun out of the UI in 2015 by Kaufmann and Hansen. Since its founding, iotaMotion has been the recipient of both National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health SBIR grants totaling $1.7 million (separate from the $2 million seed-round) with the aim of taking its robotic-assisted insertion system technology and developing an implantable system (IOTA-Progress) that will allow post-surgical adjustment of cochlear implants.
"We are thrilled to have such strong support for the vision of iotaMotion, and we look forward to building on our work to date," said Eric B. Timko, Executive Chairman of iotaMotion. "We will be investing in resources to expand our research and development efforts along with the kind of quality and regulatory initiatives that are imperative in medical technology companies."