NERv Technology, a healthtech startup with a sensory platform designed to detect complications following abdominal surgeries, has closed $1 million CAD in pre-seed funding.
The funding was led by a number of physician angel investors, an undisclosed hospital, and Sunhope Capital, a Hong Kong-based venture firm. Nerv said the new funding will help cover costs associated with preclinical research and will help the company develop a flagship post-operative surgery platform.
“If we manage to just save one patient’s life, then we will feel like our efforts were worthwhile.”
– Youssef Helwa
“A lot of our physician angels understand how big of a problem anastomotic leaks [complications following gastrointestinal surgery] is and how it’s been the bane of intestinal surgery,” Amr Abdelgawad, COO and co-founder of NERv, told BetaKit. “We reached out to and connected with a number of them who see the value in terms of improved patient outcomes and as a result [they] invested in the company as they want to see this come to life.”
NERv’s sensory platform is designed to detect anastomotic leakage, which means the leakage of content from within the gastrointestinal tract into the abdominal cavity after surgery. These leaks can result in a cascade of sometimes fatal complications. NERv said its solution is capable of detecting these leaks in a matter of minutes.
According to NERv, 1.7 million high-risk abdominal surgeries are performed in the US each year. These patients are susceptible to post-surgical complications, which can arise, on average, in eight percent of patients and result in the death of at least 13,000 patients annually in the US. NERv argued that current complication detection techniques are delayed, costly, reactive, and non-specific.
NERv was co-founded in 2014 by CEO Youssef Helwa and Abdelgawad, two University of Waterloo engineering graduates, with the startup’s executive team also comprising CTO Abdallah El-Falou and lead scientist Mohamed Okasha. Prior to its $1 million pre-seed funding, the startup reportedly raised under $1 million CAD from non-dilutive sources and government grants.
In 2016, NERv was selected to participate in the Interface Health Challenge X, “a digital health Olympic Games” of sorts for healthtech companies around the world. Some of NERv’s other partners include Velocity, Mitacs, and the Ontario Centres for Excellence.
The startup has recently completed the first phase of its preclinical studies and plans to begin regulatory submissions and clinical studies and pilots in the upcoming months as the solution approaches the commercialization phase.
“We can’t wait to get our product to market to have an impact on patients’ outcomes post-operatively,” said Helwa. “If we manage to just save one patient’s life, then we will feel like our efforts were worthwhile.”
Image courtesy NERv Technology via Facebook