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TDK Ventures backs handheld ultrasound imaging startup
TDK'a subsidiary TDK Ventures Inc. has added Exo (pronounced “Echo”), a company in ultrasound imaging, to its growing investment portfolio.
Exo aim is to reinvent how healthcare practitioners’ triage, diagnose and treat patients at the point-of-care through the use of handheld ultrasound devices. According to a press release, Exo’s solutions bring high-quality imaging to healthcare professionals at the cost of a modern smartphone. The company has managed to do this thanks to its miniaturized Piezoelectric Micromachined Ultrasonic Transducer (pMUT) technology, leveraging a combination of advances in nano-materials, advanced signal processing, sensor fusion, and artificial intelligence with the economies and scale of semiconductor manufacturing. Paired with a cloud-based workflow software, Exo aims to solve chronic issues within hospitals and clinics, such as the lack of interoperability and cumbersome documentation that takes up cycles of physician time. “The rate of explosive growth of handheld ultrasound devices is a rarity in the medical device market, currently poised to grow ten-fold in revenue in the next five years according to some analyst reports,” says Nicolas Sauvage, Managing Director of TDK Ventures, in the press release. “When we reviewed the landscape of handheld ultrasound devices, it became clear that Exo not only has the cost-image quality optimum, but is also leveraging advances in AI image recognition, which could minimize the training required to capture diagnostic-quality images. These two fundamental innovations primes Exo to make a profound impact because 75 percent of the world lacks access to ultrasound imaging, hence perfectly aligning with TDK Ventures’ strategy to invest in a sustainable future. “The team at Exo is creating a platform technology that can drive true adoption of point-of-care ultrasound in emergency rooms and critical care units, can facilitate surgical robotics and endoscopic procedures, and could enable therapeutic modalities in non-invasive neuromodulation and drug-delivery,” adds Juan-Pablo Mas, Partner of APVC. “We have a unique opportunity to build multiple category-defining ultrasound solutions and APVC shares the team’s enthusiasm to unwaveringly serve the healthcare professionals and patients whom it can benefit most.” Ted Koutouzis MD, Managing Director at Fiscus Ventures and RIVC Ventures (affiliates of Magnetar Capital) co-led the round with Action Potential Ventures. “TDK is a solid partner for Exo with value-add from the bottom of the technology stack in fundamental materials science to next-generation components in batteries and MEMS modules, in addition to system and data level sensor fusion algorithms to stack images for a seamless, intuitive clinician experience,” says Sandeep Akkaraju, CEO and co-founder of Exo. “We know that nearly 75 percent of the world’s population has no access to medical imaging due to existing systems’ exorbitant costs, need for immense power and complexity to operate. We formed Exo to make imaging available to every nurse, doctor and medic, no matter their location. We were pleased to work with synergy-seeking partners who understand our technology, business model, and mission at the same time. We were impressed by the speed at which TDK Ventures came on board and are looking forward to the ‘TDK goodness’ they can bring to Exo.”
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