Kiwi medtech Formus Labs raises US$5 million to transform orthopedic surgery

- February 4, 2022 2 MIN READ
The Formus Labs software solution in action.
A New Zealand medtech startup that’s developed  the world’s first automated 3D planner for joint replacement surgeries has raised US$5 million.

The round coincides with Formus Labs launching its orthopedic surgery planning solution which provides surgeons with unprecedented insight into the pre-operation planning process.

The investment was led by New Zealand VC firm GD1 (Global from Day 1), with participation from Punakaiki Fund, Icehouse Ventures, Pacific Channel, and Flying Kiwis.

The company will use the funds to accelerate product development and for expansion into the US. Regulator the FDA is expected to grant approval to Formus in mid-Q2 2022. The medtech venture will officially launch its products in Australia and New Zealand this month.

Formus Labs has also partnered with Zimmer Biomet, to co-develop and commercialise the Formus Hip in ANZ, as well as the investigation of international markets for global expansion.

The startup, founded at the world-renowned Auckland Bioengineering Institute, is addressing a $14 billion problem in orthopedics. Globally, 20% (1-in-5) knee replacements are unsatisfactory and 10% (1-in-10) hip replacements need revision, which ends up costing the orthopedics industry $14 billion.

Ju Zhang

Formus Labs founder and CEO Dr Ju Zhang

Founder and CEO Dr Ju Zhang said joint replacement surgery is extremely technical and each procedure is unique since each patient requires different sized and positioned parts. On top of that, the process to accurately diagnose, size and complete a joint replacement is currently fraught with time-intensive manual imaging processing.

The Formus platform fully automates the joint replacement planning process, using artificial intelligence (AI) and biomechanics to produce fully interactive 3D models to pinpoint the size and orientation required before a patient ever enters the operating room.  The software can deliver plans in 60 minutes and can be updated in real time making same day 3D planning a reality. 

Dr Zhang said that also allows surgeons to work on cases remotely at any hospital anywhere in the world, significantly reducing patient wait times, improving overall workflow, and ultimately creating better outcomes for patients. 

“Everyone knows someone that has had a joint replacement, but few know just how complex, variable, and costly the process can be,” he said. 

“Our goal is to make orthopedic surgery as simple as it can be by arming surgeons with the latest cutting-edge technology so every joint replacement has a Formus plan that reduces the need for revisions, instills confidence, and facilitates better outcomes for patients, at a lower cost.”’

GD1 co-managing partner John Kells said they’d been following the progress of the medtech startup for a while.

“From the very first time we met with Ju and the Formus team, we were impressed with the passion and vision to modernize a part of the care continuum that is still woefully underserved,” he said.

“We are very excited to support their critical mission in helping to deliver state-of-the-art, personalized, data-driven and scalable orthopedic care globally and look forward to the team executing on its goals.”

The company is rapidly expanding its team, both in ANZ and the US, including strategic computer-guided orthopedic surgery experts, engineering, commercial, and marketing roles.




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