Earlens said today that it raised a funding round worth $51 million for the light-driven hearing aid it developed, pulling down $34 million in cash and another $17 million in a bridge financing conversion.
The Earlens device, which last October won 510(k) clearance from the FDA, uses a laser diode attached to a behind-the-ear audio processor to transmit sound to the receiver against the patient’s eardrum, to directly contact the patient’s eardrum and use it as a speaker.
The funding round is slated to close during the 3rd quarter with another $14 million round, earmarked for commercialization of the Earlens device, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company said.
The round, led by new backer Vertex Healthcare, included a strategic investments from Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) and hearing aid giant Cochlear Ltd. (ASX:COH), plus existing investors New Enterprise Assoc., Aisling Capital and Lightstone Ventures.
“Hearing impairment is a significant health issue globally which has been greatly underserved by conventional hearing technology,” Vertex managing director Dr. Christopher Shen said in prepared remarks. “We are pleased to be a part of the team bringing this groundbreaking new technology to market. We believe the unique advantages of Earlens will benefit many of those hearing impaired individuals and their loved ones looking for a better solution to hearing impairment.”
Earlens raised a $36 million equity round back in March 2014. The company is led by William Facteau, the former general manager of Abbott‘s (NYSE:ABT) endovascular business. Prior to joining EarLens as chairman, president & CEO in November 2013, Facteau was president of Acclarent, which Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) division Ethicon bought for $785 million in 2010.