CMR raises $100M to commercialize surgical robot

Cambridge Medical Robotics' Versius
CMR Surgical's Versius device (CMR Surgical)

CMR Surgical has raised $100 million to commercialize its surgical robot. The series B equips CMR to start promoting portable, modular Versius devices intended to make robotic surgery routine.

Cambridge, U.K.-based CMR set out to disrupt the surgical robot market with a device designed to be more versatile and affordable than those sold by the incumbent, Intuitive Surgical. Along the way, CMR has used technologies developed by the space and mobile phone industries to create portable, modular robotic arms it sees becoming as commonplace in operating rooms as scalpels and lights.

Achieving that big goal will require a hefty investment. CMR CEO Martin Frost has previously said the company may need £100 million ($134 million) to execute its strategy. Now, with the $100 million series B round following a $46 million A round, CMR is equipped to find out if its idea will fly.

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“With these latest funds, we intend to start commercializing Versius in Europe, the USA and more broadly,” Frost said in a statement. “The overwhelming financial backing from our existing and new investors, with strong participation from management and employees, demonstrates their enthusiasm and support for CMR Surgical’s vision in making minimal access surgery available to all.”

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Zhejiang Silk Road Fund is the notable new name on the list of investors. The fund was joined in the series A round by existing backers Escala Capital Investments, LGT, Cambridge Innovation Capital and Watrium.

The global syndicate has backed a company with multiple novel elements. CMR’s device is the most obvious differentiator, with its form diverging sharply from that of the octopus-like systems that have characterized the early years of robot-assisted surgery. CMR also comes from a country not known for building the sort of global medical device businesses it aspires to be, and it plans to corner the market with a novel business model.

Rather than sell robots for millions of dollars, CMR plans to provide them as a managed service. Hospitals that sign up will receive technology, training, instrumentation and support without making a hefty upfront investment. CMR thinks the model will help hospitals tie costs to revenues, making robotic surgery viable for more healthcare facilities.

The business model and devices—which are yet to win approval—remain unproven. But with $100 million in the bank, CMR now has the means to find out if it can pull off its plan.