Chinese surgical robot startup raises funds

BEIJING — Chinese medical robot developer Jointech (Jianjia Robots) recently raised more than 100 million yuan ($14.72 million) of funds in a Series B round, it was reported. A large Chinese investment fund, Hillhouse Capital, major Chinese drug company Fosun Pharmaceutical and the startup’s existing shareholder, Baidu Ventures, took part in joint investment in the financing round.

HaoYue Capital served as a financial adviser to the deal, as it did early this year for Jointech’s Series A round, in which the startup raised tens of millions of yuan. The company will use the new funds in the clinical registration of its joint replacement surgical robots as well as in the research and development of new products, according to the report.

The company, which was established in 2018, develops and manufactures orthopedic surgical robots using artificial intelligence and provides precise solutions for artificial joint replacement surgery, covering all processes before, during and after operations.

According to a related report, China’s robot market reached $8.68 billion in 2019, with the market growing at an average annual rate of 20.9% from 2014 to 2019. Service robots accounted for $2.2 billion of the market in 2019. China’s market for medical robots surpassed $600 million in 2019 and is expected to exceed $740 million in 2020 and $1 billion in 2021.

More than 40 companies have entered the medical robot business in China. In 2019, nearly half of them raised funds amounting to a total of more than 400 million yuan ($58.90 million). The country’s medical robot market is rapidly growing, reflecting incentives from government policies, a rapidly aging population, growing personal incomes and accelerating industrial advancement.

Jointech developed a hip joint replacement surgical robot called Arthrobot. The robot can determine the exact position of the acetabulum, or the socket of the hipbone, shave it and fit an artificial joint into it, reducing the final positioning error of the operation to less than 1 millimeter and keeping the divergences in the fitting angles to within 1 degree, it was reported. The robot substantially mitigates problems that accompany traditional hip replacement surgery, such as low precision, the long time it takes doctors to acquire skills and the high dosage of radiation required for them.

“It has been proved from a large amount of data that minimally invasive types of joint replacement operations sharply reduce patients’ hospitalization and rehabilitation periods, allowing them to return to work and normal daily life more quickly, and also help to reduce health care costs,” said a person responsible for the funding project at Fosun Pharmaceutical. “This joint surgery robot will eliminate human-induced uncertainties in minimally invasive joint replacement operations, making the surgery considerably more effective.”

“It has already been proved that surgical robot systems using AI have great clinical potential as a new platform that improves the efficiency of surgical operations,” said a spokesperson for Baidu Ventures. “The need for orthopedic surgery continues to grow with the rapid aging of the population, and there is also a big market for surgical robots. In recent years, government policies have been promoting domestic innovations in medical appliances, and I believe we now have a golden chance.”

36Kr, a Chinese tech news portal founded in Beijing in 2010, has more than 150 million readers worldwide. Nikkei announced a partnership with 36Kr on May 22, 2019.

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For the Chinese version, click here.

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