Surgical robots win GBP 1,025 million funding through Oxford Angels Network

Buckinghamshire 11 May 2005A Buckinghamshire company whose intelligent robots can assist surgeons during complex operations, has raised GBP 1,025 million with the help of Oxfordshire Investment Opportunity Network (OION), Europe's leading technology business angel network, and investment from Hoegh Capital and Octopus Asset Management. Armstrong Healthcare Ltd., a producer of image-guided surgical robots, will use the funds to support the development of its three main products through clinical trials to launch as revenue generating products.

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Mr. Kevin D'Silva, Chairman of Armstrong Healthcare, stated: "Advances in minimally-invasive surgery favour the use of our robots which can place surgical instruments much more precisely on a selected area, and significantly reduce trauma to patients. At Armstrong, we work closely with surgeons to create robots to assist in a range of surgical specialities, from neurosurgery to cardio-thoracic surgery."

Armstrong's EndoAssist camera-holding robot has already been successfully used in coronary bypass surgery, and is used in laparoscopic - abdominal - procedures in a number of hospitals across Europe. In cardio-thoracic surgery, the robot enables surgeons to work on the affected internal area via a small incision in the chest, avoiding the conventional surgical approach of slicing down the breastbone to gain access. The robot holds the camera, providing a "rock steady" and accurate close-up of the internal chest wall or heart, and moves the camera precisely in response to small movements from a surgeon's head.

The company's Pathfinder image-guided robot assists surgeons with neurosurgical procedures, ranging from simple tumour biopsies to complex neurosurgery, and an OrthoTrack robot for orthopaedic surgery is scheduled for launch in 2007.

Mr. D'Silva continued: "Our robots bring significant benefits for both surgeons and patients. Surgeons can perform less invasive techniques and achieve more precise targeting, and patients face less scarring and enjoy a much faster recovery time."

Mr. D'Silva commented on the fundraising process: "Our experience is that OION delivers a very effective fundraising forum for emerging, high technology companies. Jon Cox and the OION team are very efficient and supportive and during the process they introduced us to a range of funding sources including private equity institutions and business angels. Armstrong is one of only three surgical robot companies in the world and it is highly encouraging to receive investment support from the local financial community."

Dr. Jon Cox, Manager of OION, stated: "Armstrong is responding to modern health care developments to provide a better outcome for surgeons and patients, as well as maximising valuable health care resources. OION has helped a number of health care companies raise finance to develop their innovative products, and we were delighted to assist Armstrong with the final stage of their fundraising programme, enabling the company to bring its innovative robotic solutions to market. On this occasion, we matched Armstrong with Lacomp, one of several Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) fund members of the OION Network. This is the second time that Lacomp have chosen to invest after seeing a company at an OION meeting."

Mr. D'Silva concluded: "There is undoubtedly an exciting future for surgical robots. Providing surgeons with greatly improved precision and full traceability enables operations that have not yet been attempted as hitherto surgeons were not confident of the levels of accuracy. I hope that Armstrong will play its part in creating tomorrow's surgical solutions."

Oxfordshire Investment Opportunity Network is Europe's most successful technology business angel network that links investors with entrepreneurs seeking business development funds from GBP 150.000 to GBP 2 million. OION helped 13 companies raise GBP 2,5 million in the year to March 2005, and during the last five years, has helped 74 companies raise GBP 17,3 million. OION holds monthly meetings where selected companies can pitch their proposals to OION's members, which include over 130 active business angels, VCTs and venture capitalists.

Many of these companies are university spin-outs and OION is uniquely positioned to help them. OION holds regular joint presentation meetings, and has strong links with universities with a reputation for spinning out quality technology companies such as Warwick, Oxford, Bristol, University College London and Imperial College London. OION is managed by Oxford Innovation Ltd., the United Kingdom's leading operator of innovation centre premises for start-up companies, and sponsored by MTI Partners, HSBC, Grant Thornton, Laytons, Frank B. Dehn & Co, NESTA and Business Link.

Armstrong Healthcare was founded in 1995, and has grown into an international company with sales across four continents, and an American subsidiary. Armstrong now leads the world in developing image-guided surgical robotics, has a strong patent portfolio and continues to pioneer new approaches in surgical technology.


Leslie Versweyveld

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