Beijing-based investor leads $17M round for powered bionic ankle startup

BiOM Ankle--Courtesy of BionX Medical Technologies

BionX Medical Technologies has raised $17 million in a Series E financing with the expectation of hitting a total of $25 million by the end of the first quarter. This cash for the bionic prosthetic startup is earmarked to back its U.S. and international expansion, particularly into China, as well as further product development. The financing is led by ZGC Shiner Investment, which is based in Beijing.

The Bedford, MA-based company markets its BiOM Ankle, which it noted is the only lower-limb prosthesis that offers powered propulsion that's intended to enhance mobility. It's designed to mimic normal ankle movement and to be stable on any surface.

The company was founded in 2007 by Dr. Hugh Herr, the director and principal investigator of the Biomechatronics Group of MIT's Media Laboratory. The company started out as iWalk, then became BiOM, and finally was renamed BionX Medical Technologies in September.

"We are very excited about our new partnership through this investment," said Hao He, CEO of ZGC Shiner, in a statement. "We are also eager to witness the successful integration of BionX's products into the Chinese market, benefiting the disabled population of China while advancing BionX to its next level."

In December, BionX disclosed a distribution deal with German prosthetics, orthotics and mobility company Ottobock, which is exclusively selling the BiOM Ankle in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Scandinavian markets. Financial details of the partnership weren't released.

In the U.S., the BiOM Ankle has a CMS code and is covered by major payers including Workers' Compensation and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Others including Aetna ($AET), various Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurers, Empire State, Humana ($HUM), UnitedHealthcare ($UNH) and Tricare have reimbursed for the prosthetic on a case-by-case basis, according to the BionX site.

Last month, the VA said it would reimburse for the robotic exoskeleton from small-cap ReWalk Robotics ($RWLK), which also just secured a $20 million credit facility to advance its commercialization efforts.

Series E financier and partner ZGC is expected to open up its marketing in China. BionX President and CEO Dr. Charles Carignan said, "Working with ZGC has been beneficial to BionX as they bring solid investment expertise and are a strategic partner for expansion in China, a market with enormous potential."

Investors in the Bedford, MA-based startup include WFD Ventures, General Catalyst Partners, Sigma Partners and Gilde Healthcare Partners. It's also received funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center.

- here is the announcement