Funding: French retinal implant maker Pixium Vision raises $20M

Funding: French retinal implant maker Pixium Vision raises $20M

Retinal implants maker Pixium landed a $20.3 million (€15 million) Series A funding round, planning to use the funds to further develop its IRIS "bionic eye" technology.

The IRIS system is comprised of a retinal implant and a pair of camera-mounted glasses connected to a "pocket computer." The computer processes images captured by the glasses and transmits the data into a signal that’s transferred back and projected onto the intraocular implant, where it stimulates the optic nerve and generates images that the brain learns to interpret as visual signals.

Pixium in April 2013 launched a clinical trial of the 1st-generation IRIS1 system, expecting initial data next year, which the company will use to support an application for CE Mark approval in the European Union.

The newly raised funds will help complete the clinical trial and develop next-generation IRIS systems, Pixium CEO Dr. Bernard Gilly said in prepared remarks.

Pixium’s funding round was led by Sofinnova Partners, now the company’s largest investor, with additional funds from Bpifrance, the InnoBio fund and previous investors Omnes Capital and Abingworth LLP. Representatives from Bpifrance and Sofinnova joined Pixium’s board in conjunction with the Series A funding, according to a press release.

Once it hits the European market, the IRIS system will have to contend with Second Sight Medical’s Argus II, which won CE Mark in 2011. The Argus II is similarly comprised of a retinal implant, camera-mounted glasses and a processing unit, and the device earlier this year won landmark approval from the FDA.

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