Breakthrough Victoria backs baby-saving medtech startup Navi in $2.4 million raise

- August 3, 2023 2 MIN READ
Navi cofounders Assoc Prof Christiane Theda and Alex Newton, with Victorian industry and innovation minister Ben Carroll.
Navi cofounders Assoc Prof Christiane Theda and Alex Newton, with Victorian industry and innovation minister Ben Carroll.
Breakthrough Victoria has backed Navi Medical Technologies as part of a $2.4 million raise to develop a medical device for newborn babies and children.

The state government investment fund was lead investor chipping in $700,000, with the federal government also backing the medtech startup with grants.

Also backing the round was Medtech Actuator and Artesian VC.

The funds raised will allow the company to further develop their product and get the regulatory approval required to take it to market, creating up to 30 jobs.

The Melbourne startup is developing a medical device to help guide clinicians inserting central venous catheters into the veins of critically ill newborn babies and children to administer life-saving therapies.

Currently, nearly half of these life-saving procedures result in catheters being misplaced, which if left undetected, can lead to life-threatening complications.

The problem is that clinicians relying on x-rays to confirm the catheter location after it’s been inserted. Navi has a developed a tip location system that, like parking sensors on a car, guides the clinician as they insert a tiny catheter into a newborn baby’s vein and position it close to the heart to safely deliver medicines, nutrients or fluids.

It measures electrocardiogram (ECG) signals from the heart and displays information on a tablet-like screen in real-time to tell doctors and nurses whether the placement of the catheter is correct. It can also be used to check if a catheter has moved or migrated into an unsafe location over time. It is non-invasive and connects onto the end of an existing catheter.

The device is currently undergoing a second clinical trial involving 25 critically ill newborn babies at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne.

Navi CEO Alex Newton said the Neonav ECG tip location system will enable doctors and nurses to administer therapies more safely.

“At present, central catheters are inserted into the veins of critically ill newborns and young children in a blind procedure, doctors are only able to confirm the location of the catheter with an x-ray after the procedure has already taken place,” he said.

“Unfortunately, this approach leads to a large number of instances where the catheters are misplaced, exposing patients to potentially life-threatening complications if left undetected.”

Newton said funding will be channelled towards the next critical phase of work.

“Primarily we’re focused on completing product development activities and a major clinical trial to obtain FDA approval, which will allow us to set up our manufacturing and logistics capabilities in preparation for our entry into the U.S market,” he said.

“Our goal at Navi is to build a world leading medical device company for the most fragile patients in our healthcare system. Support from Breakthrough Victoria at this early stage is vital in growing our team and building a strong foundation for success.”

Navi’s chief medical officer Associate Professor Christiane Theda said: “For more than 30 years I’ve been dreaming of a device to assist with placement of catheters to help my patients. With the support of Breakthrough Victoria and our other partners, we’re now one big step closer to bringing the Neonav ECG Tip Location System to the bedside.”

Breakthrough Victoria acting CEO Sally McCutchan said Navi “ticks all the boxes” for its investment strategy.

“All too often we see innovative technology like this going offshore for development – one of our goals is to invest in early-stage companies like Navi Medical Technologies to help them navigate the valley of death and see this sort of life changing technology commercialised in Victoria,” she said.