A pair of Chinese backers put $18 million into Bionic Vision Technologies and its retinal implant for blindness, the Australian company said today.
Hong Kong-based China Huarong International Holdings and State Path Capital ponied up A$23.5 million, BVT said, noting that it plans to use the cash to build devices and launch clinical trials in retinitis pigmentosa, based on a 3-patient study using a prototype.
The company developed the device using A$50 million (about $38.3 million) from a 5-year Special Research Initiative grant via the Australian Research Council. Existing backers include the University of Melbourne, the University of New South Wales, the Bionics Institute, Centre for Eye Research Australia, CSIRO’s Data 61, The Royal Victorian Eye & Ear Hospital, Western Sydney University and the Australian College of Optometry, BVT said.
“Given BVT’s commitment to developing and delivering a revolutionary solution for vision loss, we believe its ‘bionic eye’ technology has the potential to transform the lives of millions of people and meet a large unmet need. Our investment support will help move the current product closer to market and the communities who will benefit,” State Path chairman Alastair Lam said in prepared remarks. “Our investment in BVT aligns with our strategy of backing transformative new technology with significant global potential.”
“This investment is an important milestone for our unique Australian technology and an endorsement of our approach to making a positive impact on global health. These new funds will help create an innovative, solution to potentially help improve the lives of blind people,” added BVT chairman Robert Klupacs. “The funding will propel this Australian technology into clinical trials in coming months as we work towards securing regulatory approval and a commercial launch in key markets where loss of vision is a significant medical burden.”
BVT said the next phase in its clinical program is slated to commence “in coming months” in Melbourne, with new patients enrolled in a 2-year trial using the device at home (the prototype trial involved only lab use of the device, the company said).
($1 = A1.31$)