For the past year venture capitalists have kept a watchful eye on surgeries like the broken-ankle repair Dr. Thomas Gausepohl performed on a woman in Marl, Germany, in June 2011.
Confronted with a bone fracture that would normally require inserting up to 10 screws and a plate in the woman’s ankle, or immobilizing it for six weeks, Gausepohl chose a new, minimally invasive bone-stabilization technique involving balloons, glue and light fiber.
Less than 24 hours after the procedure, the woman was able to walk out of the hospital on the injured ankle without a cast or brace.
And investors had another example of the vast potential of new devices developed for the procedure by IlluminOss Medical Inc. of East Providence.
This fall, after more than 100 clinical trials in Europe and more still in South America, IlluminOss closed on a $28 million Series C funding round from a group of nine investors on both sides of the Atlantic.
The funding round was the largest for a company that was founded in Rhode Island in at least a decade and marks the business as a major candidate for life sciences growth in the state.
“It is the single largest venture-capital financing in a Rhode Island biomedical startup in a long time,” said Richard Horan, managing director of the Slater Technology Fund, which invested $500,000 in the Series C round, “But the caliber and commitment of those investors is equally worth mention. Medical devices of the type being pioneered by IlluminOss [and used by Gausepohl] are not for the faint of heart. They are best financed by investors who have the experience to carry them through to completion.”
The Series C round was co-led by new investors Tekla Capital Management of Boston and Life Sciences Partners of Amsterdam, Munich and Boston. The round also included previous IlluminOss investors Foundation Medical Partners of Connecticut, Mieza Partners of Connecticut and New Leaf Venture Partners of New York, plus new investors Excel Venture Management of Boston, SR One of Philadelphia, and Pappas Ventures of Research Triangle Park, N.C.
Horan said the last Rhode Island company he remembers raising a larger amount of funding in a single round was Cytotherapeutics Inc. of Providence in 1998.