Ekso Bionics launches joint exoskeleton manufacturing venture in China

Powered exoskeleton developer Ekso Bionics has launched a joint venture in China, supported by at least $100 million, to build a dedicated manufacturing center for rehabilitation and industrial-use markets in Asia.

The Richmond, California-based Ekso will license its manufacturing technology and transfer its relevant Chinese patent rights to the venture, in exchange for a 20% ownership stake.

The JV’s other two partners—Zhejiang Youchuang Venture Capital Investment and Zhejiang Silicon Paradise Asset Management Group—will commit over $90 million in cash to the effort, with a portion slated for the construction of a purpose-built production facility in Zhejiang province, near Shanghai.

In addition, Zhejiang Youchuang will make a $10 million equity investment in Ekso, which will also be eligible for royalties based on future medical and industrial product sales in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

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China is one of the world’s largest markets for stroke rehabilitation services, with Ekso estimating 12 million patients in the country alone and about 2 million dying of stroke-related illnesses annually. The company expects that population to more than double to about 30 million stroke patients by 2030, with most suffering varying degrees of disability.

In addition, there are more than 2 million spinal cord injury patients in China, with an additional 100,000 to 140,000 spinal cord injuries each year.

“Despite the significant impact that stroke has on the Chinese population, the stroke and spinal cord rehabilitation industry in China is not as developed as it is in the United States,” said Jack Peurach, president and CEO of Ekso Bionics, who described the joint venture as a transformative opportunity for the company and patients with limited access to services.