Making it Work

InVera Medical targets €17m ‘game-changer’ funding for device to treat varicose veins

The Galway medtech has developed a faster and less invasive treatment of chronic venous disease which affects 12 million people in Europe and the US

InVera co-founders Sean Cummins, Stephen Cox and Nigel Phelan: ‘Varicose veins affect one in four people, and as you get older, the symptoms get worse.’ Picture: Martina Regan

InVera Medical, a Galway-based medical device company, is planning a €17 million funding round next year as part of the rollout of a new product it believes can change the treatment of chronic venous disease.

The Enterprise Ireland-backed business has already raised €4.5 million to fund the development of the device, which aims to pioneer a faster, less invasive method of treating a condition that affects 12 million people across Europe and the US.

InVera has also won millions of euro in grants for its product, meaning its upcoming Series A round will bring the overall amount it has raised over the last three years to more than €20 million

The company was founded in 2018 by Stephen Cox, Nigel Phelan and Sean Cummins after the trio took part in NUI Galway’s BioInnovate programme, which aims to help entrepreneurs with ideas to help solve unmet needs.

“We spotted the huge, underserved problem of bad circulation,” Cox told the Business Post. “Varicose veins affect one in four people, and as you get older the symptoms get worse.”

Varicose veins are caused by the weakening of valves which are meant to stop the flow of blood in the wrong direction. In some cases, the issue can cause blood to pool in the limb, which can lead to chronic open wounds in the leg.

“Those wounds are known as venous leg ulcers, and they’re horrifically bad for quality of life,” Cox said. “The patients we met during the BioInnovate programme often had their lives absolutely destroyed – from social anxiety, to financial ruin, and also isolation and depression in some cases.”

Not only are the ulcers severely damaging, they’re also very expensive, Cox explained. “They cost about €10,000 per year, each, to manage. And there are about 12 million people in the US and EU alone affected by the problem in some way or another.”

InVera’s product is a single-use, disposable catheter that the company plans to sell to outpatient centres and vein clinics in the US and EU. It is inserted into the leg by a vascular surgeon, targeting an affected vein. Once the catheter is place, the surgeon can unfurl a mechanical ablation tip developed by InVera, which scars the inside of the valve and triggers the body’s natural healing response.

“Just like you might get a cut on your hand, and it scars up and heals over time, we’re doing that to a very small vessel,” Cox explained. “The device is then removed from the person after treatment, and they go home. And they can go about their business straight away – there’s no overnight stay or anything. These patients do get better if you treat the source of their problem.”

The company started an in-human clinical trial in 2020 as part of a plan to obtain approval from regulators in both blocs by 2025. After that, it will look to quickly commercialise the device in Europe and America.

The business has backing from a Japanese medical device manufacturer called Nipro Corporation. It was also examining the Asian market, Cox said.

InVera has support from the European Innovation Council (EIC) in the form of a €2.5 million fund over the next two years. It plans to raise €10 million from new and existing investors and will also receive another €7 million from the EIC as part of that investment.

“That funding is a game-changer for the company,” Cox said. “It allows us to move faster through the clinical hurdles. With our 2020 round we got enough fuel in the tank to start the engine up and start going, but the Series A is designed to take us out of this orbit and access international markets.”