Innovation is the lifeblood of any industry – and the medical field is no different. With its innovative technology, FloSonics Medical, a Sudbury based medical technology startup and NORCAT Innovation client, is poised to revolutionize the healthcare industry – and save lives at the same time.
What started out as a casual conversation between college roommates has recently resulted in the closing of a $5 million funding round for further development and commercialization of the FloPatch, the world’s first disposable ultrasound bandage and the med tech start-up’s proprietary technology. The FloPatch is an automated fluid response ultrasound system, in the form of a wearable sensor that adheres to the patient’s neck, that provides non-invasive means for physicians, nurses and paramedics to monitor critically ill patients in real time during the early stages of shock inside and outside the hospital to help determine whether intravenous fluids are a viable and effective treatment option.
The idea for the FloPatch began when co-founder Joe Eibl’s college roommate, an intensive care physician, described the difficulties in using ultrasound machines to monitor fluid responsiveness in patients, pointing out how the information is necessary and critical, yet time consuming and costly. The process also requires two people simultaneously aim the ultrasound wand and lift the patient’s lower legs to ensure both accurate readings and movement of the upper body and arteries. The FloPatch would alleviate this pain point, giving real time data and accurate readings without expensive equipment, extensive training and requiring only one person to be with the patient at a time.
In the fall of 2015, FloSonics’ four cofounders approached NORCAT Innovation team with their idea for the FloPatch. Named KE2 Technologies at the time, the group worked together with NORCAT to validate the need for the FloPatch technology, and subsequently received initial funding through NORCAT’s FedNor enabled Innovation Acceleration Program to support the planning, development and testing of the FloPatch prototype. As a client, FloSonics also utilized the program offerings and in-house expert advice offered by the Innovation Mill, connecting with multiple mentors with experience in the field of medicine, product development, finance and startup growth. In the face of their success, the services provided through NORCAT Innovation remains a stand-out for the Sudbury-based FloSonics founders.
"NORCAT was a true partner; they were instrumental in launching our company," says Dr. Joe Eibl, FloSonics CEO and co-founder. "From prototyping to formal fundraising, the NORCAT Innovation team provided the experience, know how, and credibility we needed to develop a world-class start-up in the North."
FloSonics’ connection with NORCAT Innovation also led to the formation of a relationship with both the NORCAT Innovation Angels and Mentors (NIMA) and the Northern Ontario Angels (NOA), who coached the team to a successful pitch that aided in the further development of a proof-of-concept device. Local collaboration and community support has continued to be an essential element in the company’s success, and in November they closed out 2017 with the announcement that they would be the recipient of $200,000 from FedNor’s Northern Ontario Development Program to help further their growth. On a larger scale, the company has delivered multiple pitches across the globe, and in June 2017 were selected out of 150 companies for Merck’s Displaying Futures Award, an international competition in Germany. In October, they won the Interface Health Challenge in Vancouver, in recognition of their impact on health related challenges.
With the latest closing of the $5 million Series A funding round, FloSonics serves as an example of how NORCAT's Innovation Centre works to guide new and exciting ideas from validation and research and development to the marketplace.
"From NORCAT's perspective, it has been phenomenal to be a part of the establishment and growth of FloSonics. Having witnessed them take advantage of our available resources to create an innovative medtech company right here in Greater Sudbury is very exciting," states Innovation manager Kyle McCall. "The success of FloSonics also speaks to the continued impact the Northern School of Medicine has had on the Greater Sudbury community. The fact that they’ve been able to attract individuals like Joe to our community, who has brought a climbing gym and now FloSonics to Sudbury, has a huge impact on our city."