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CMR Surgical raises £195m to bring its Versius robot to hospitals across the world




CMR Surgical has raised £195million to power the global commercialisation of its Versius robot.

It represents Europe’s largest private financing round in the medical technology sector and a huge vote of confidence in a system set to transform minimal access surgery.

The $240m funding means the company is now the Cambridge region’s latest unicorn, having achieved $1bn valuation.

Martin Frost, CEO of CMR Surgical, with Versius. Picture: Keith Heppell
Martin Frost, CEO of CMR Surgical, with Versius. Picture: Keith Heppell

The company, which opened its new global headquarters at Evolution Business Park in Impington earlier this year, said the robot is expected to be launched in hospitals in Europe and Asia “imminently”, with further international expansion to follow.

It comes after an announcement in May that 30 human surgical procedures using Versius had been successfully completed as part of an ongoing trial.

Existing investors LGT, Escala Capital Investments, Cambridge Innovation Capital, Watrium, and Zhejiang Silk Road Fund have been joined in the financing round by new US investors with deep sector knowledge.

CMR Surgical's Versius robot. (16769635)
CMR Surgical's Versius robot. (16769635)

Martin Frost, CEO of CMR Surgical - and winner of CEO of the Year at the 2018 Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards - said: “We are delighted with the level of interest and support we have received from both new and existing investors.

“This is a really exciting time for CMR, having already completed a series of surgical procedures using Versius in a clinical trial, and we are on the verge of the commercial launch of the Versius system.

“We are strongly positioned to transform the global market of minimal access surgery, making it more accessible and affordable.”

CMR Surgical, which has been listed as the sixth fastest growing business in the UK, employs 400 people in offices across four continents.

The funding will support the drive to bring Versius to robots across the world, while supporting research and development, manufacturing and further expansion.

Lord Prior, chairman of the NHS, with CMR Surgical CEO Martin Frost at the offical opening of the company's new Impington HQ. Picture: Richard Marsham
Lord Prior, chairman of the NHS, with CMR Surgical CEO Martin Frost at the offical opening of the company's new Impington HQ. Picture: Richard Marsham

Minimal access surgery can help reduce pain and scarring for patients, cutting recovery times. But existing take-up of robotic-assisted procedures has been limited because existing robots are huge, expensive and can be challenging to master.

Versius can fit comfortably into existing operating theatres, is portable and designed to be affordable to general hospitals.

It offers dexterity and precision to surgeons by ‘biomimicking’ the human arm with fully-wristed instruments. It has freedom of port platform, 3D HD vision, easy-to adopt instrument control and a choice of ergonomic working positions.

Its versatility also means it can be used a range of minimal access surgical procedures, helping to reduce the number of people who undergo open surgery each year - currently six million a year.

The Evolution Business Park premises of CMR Surgical. Picture: CMR Surgical (16769604)
The Evolution Business Park premises of CMR Surgical. Picture: CMR Surgical (16769604)

The global market for robot-assisted minimal access surgery is put at $3.7billion and is growing at 19 per cent a year. It is anticipated to reach $20billion by 2025.

Robert Tansley, partner at CIC, which has supported the company since its Series A funding in 2016, said: “We would like to congratulate CMR Surgical on the fantastic progress that it has made which has allowed this successful Series C fundraise, the size of which is testament to the huge potential of its Versius system. CIC’s investment strategy is to build high-growth companies with differentiated, innovative technology within Cambridge and CMR is a great example of the high-quality science and technology coupled with strong ambition, present in the world-class Cambridge ecosystem.”

The company closed its £74million Series B round at the end of May 2018.

John Acker, of CMR Surgical, left, and Steve Bell, right, watch Professor John Wallwork try the Versius system. Picture: Richard Marsham
John Acker, of CMR Surgical, left, and Steve Bell, right, watch Professor John Wallwork try the Versius system. Picture: Richard Marsham

Erik Langaker, chairman of CMR Surgical, said: “We are pleased to welcome new US investors whose calibre and scale are reflective of the scale of CMR’s mission to transform surgery. I would also like to thank our existing investors for their long-term commitment in supporting this company to achieve its global mission. The significant capital injection in a UK scale-up reconfirms my belief that the Cambridge ecosystem has fostered a unique pool of diverse talents and competencies that will help drive our innovation in the years ahead. With new and existing investors onboard, CMR is well-placed to make surgical robotics accessible for all.”

CMR Surgical believes its new open surgeon console has the potential to reduce stress and fatigue and extend the careers of surgeons.

A survey commissioned by the company found nearly 20 per cent of surgeons in the UK and the US and 15 per cent of surgeons surveyed in Germany think they may need to retire early due to physical impact of conducting laparoscopic surgery.

The console for the Versius robot from CMR Surgical (16769579)
The console for the Versius robot from CMR Surgical (16769579)

The survey of 400 general, gynaecological and colorectal surgeons found three in four UK respondents (76 per cent) have experienced back pain while performing laparoscopic surgery.

Performing operations like hysterectomies, hernia repair and colectomies means surgeons have traditionally had to adopt physically challenging positions - a problem solved by Versius.

Umur Hursever, partner at LGT Lightstone, added: “CMR Surgical has significant potential to make a real impact on the surgical robotics market. As an existing investor, we are confident that the company will disrupt the status quo and transform surgery for millions of people worldwide. CMR Surgical is one example of how LGT invests in innovative tech companies that develop groundbreaking solutions to sustainably improve quality of life for a large number of people.”

The Series C financing was supported by Citigroup Global Markets and Morgan Stanley.

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