Baltimore medical device startup CoapTech raised $7 million in a Series B funding round as it continues commercialization activities for its system to place feeding tubes using ultrasound.
The funding round was led by Hunniwell Lake Ventures, a Palo Alto, California-based venture capital firm that focuses on medical devices.
CoapTech was founded by Dr. Steven Tropello, a critical care physician at Baltimore’s University of Maryland School of Medicine, and clinical innovation researcher Howard Carolan. After seeing patients in need of a feeding tube waiting days for a specialist, Dr. Tropello invented a device that’s designed to be completed by a clinician at the bedside, rather than requiring a surgical setting. Called PUMA-G, the device uses ultrasound and magnets to enable feeding tube placement.
After CoapTech worked with commercialization team members at University of Maryland, Baltimore’s UM Ventures and local firms as it progressed through R&D, the device received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year. It also moved into Port Covington’s LaunchPort at City Garage, which has become home to several Baltimore medical device companies. CoapTech has grown its use and continued to validate the device, including a clinical trial at Baltimore’s University of Maryland Medical Center.
In the hospitals where it is used, Carolan said the PUMA-G has become the default method for placing feeding tubes. It’s added several new sites recently, too. With the pandemic, the device has proved to have benefits for managing patients during the pandemic, as it eliminates the need to transport patients, staff and tools around the hospital.
To date, this growth has all been organic, and clinically driven. Carolan said the company has been growing without any dedicated sales and marketing budget.
“Therefore, right now most doctors who could benefit from PUMA-G don’t even know this technology exists yet,” Carolan said. “So we will be ramping up efforts and personnel to get the word out to new clinical users, and to get the device to doctors who are excited about using PUMA-G.”
So with the funding, the company is eyeing scale. It will look to add team members in sales and marketing, as well as clinical specialist functions to support training new sites.
“With more resources behind our commercial efforts we aim to begin broadening our targets and accelerating PUMA-G to reach more users who can benefit,” Carolan said.
The funding will also enable R&D for the underlying PUMA system to be expanded to more uses for procedures in other hollow areas of the body.
“CoapTech’s PUMA System has the potential to transform gastrostomy and many other surgical procedures by allowing them to be performed using ultrasound at the bedside, in hospitals, ambulatory centers, skilled nursing facilities, and LTACHs [Long-term Acute Care Hospitals],” said Daniel Teo, managing partner at Hunniwell Lake Ventures, in a statement. “This also benefits patients by bringing the procedure closer to the point-of-demand and giving them more options with a larger community of medical providers capable of performing the procedure.”
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