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Corneal implant firm raises $65M in venture round

02 Dec 2011

AcuFocus, which has developed a corneal inlay for treating presbyopia (near-vision loss), gets a major financial boost.

The developer of a new treatment for near-vision loss in middle age has raised $65 million in a sixth round of private equity funding. California-based AcuFocus, which has so far implanted 7000 of its “KAMRA” corneal inlays worldwide, says that it will use the injection of equity funding to scale its business globally.

The latest funding was led by $30 million from Cowen Healthcare Royalty Partners, with existing investors Schroder Ventures International, Versant Ventures, Carlyle Group, Accuitive Medical Ventures and eyecare giant Bausch & Lomb all taking part. Previous investors have included Boston Innovation Optics.

Of that total funding, $40 million comes in the form of straight equity financing, while $25 million is structured as a “synthetic royalty” investment – whereby Cowen Healthcare stands to receive a stream of cash flow payments on future sales.

Although the presbyopia treatment is a new one, AcuFocus has actually been around for more than a decade since its founding by the Innovation Factory, a medical device incubator in Atlanta, Georgia.

Over that time it has gone through several rounds of funding. According to filings with the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), it raised $9 million as far back as late 2002, with Schroder, Carlyle Venture Partners and Versant Venture Capital among the early investors to see potential in the technology.

In January 2007 the firm raised another $18 million in a “series D” round, and followed it up with a further $6 million equity funding two years later.

Although the KAMRA inlay has a CE mark clearance for use in the European Union and is also available in parts of Asia, the Middle East and South America, it is not yet fully cleared in the domestic US market. AcuFocus CEO Ed Peterson said in a statement welcoming the latest funding boost that the company was preparing “to submit to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) early 2012”. Thus far, the inlay has gained only investigational clearance.

Peterson added: “We are thrilled with this financial support from Cowen Royalty and our existing investors. This funding gives us the ability to scale our business by expanding commercially into new and existing markets on a global basis.”

JENOPTIK Light & OpticsBRD Optical Co., LtdEdmund OpticsAVANTES BVAltechnaNanoscribe GmbHDataRay Inc.
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