Invuity draws $25M Series D for illuminated surgical tools

The Eigr Illuminated Breast Retractor System is one of Invuity's surgical devices--courtesy of Invuity

Invuity has reached a milestone that matters even more these days in a VC market that continues to be conservative and cautious. The San Francisco device company raised $25 million in a Series D round of financing, and plans to use the new bounty of cash to accelerate the development, marketing and manufacturing of its surgical tools enhanced with special "illumination technology."

CEO Philip Sawyer told FierceMedicalDevices in an interview ahead of the announcement that he sees the new funding as significant, considering that device companies in his area of operation "have had a hard time raising funding."

"A lot of the investors have become gun-shy, because of their perspective on the sector," Sawyer said from his company's headquarters in an old sewing factory that once also served as Wikipedia's offices. "The fact that we were able to raise the money on good terms, and we were over-subscribed, and there were several firms we had to turn away. Our backers say that is not happening frequently in today's [investor] environment at all."

Valence Advantage Life Sciences Fund II (Valence Advantage) led the new round, which also included contributions from Wexford Capital and existing investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and InterWest Partners. As part of the new investment, Valence Advantage's Eric Roberts will also join the company's board of directors. Invuity raised $28 million in its previous three rounds. Invuity's reusable retractors and other tools are equipped with the company's disposable Eigr optical imaging technology, so surgeons can see inside a small incision more clearly without having to open it wider and increase the risk of scarring.

Sawyer, CEO since 2010, said the company will focus the new investment on expanding development, commercial launch and manufacturing of its special surgical tools. Part of this effort will bring on 12 new employees focused on manufacturing, development and sales and marketing, adding to the 32 employees Invuity already has on staff. Already, the 7-year-old company markets about 20 different surgical tools for less invasive surgeries for breast, thyroid, spinal, hip and orthopedic procedures, with at least 5 more product launches planned over the remaining year, Sawyer said.

The company pulled $800,000 in revenue in 2011. But since it began commercial sales in earnest 12 months ago, revenue has been growing substantially. Sawyer wouldn't disclose detailed revenue, but said the company expects to pull in as much revenue during its 2012 second quarter as it did in all of 2011.

- here's the release