Waxing Moon: Surgical tech maker pulls $55M and robotics maven Fred Moll into its orbit

With a fresh injection of venture funding and a high-profile addition to its board, Moon Surgical is entering a new phase.

The Fierce 15 honoree’s latest financing round clocked in at $55.4 million, according to a Wednesday announcement. It was led by Sofinnova Capital Strategy and Nvidia’s venture arm, NVentures, with additional support coming from Johnson & Johnson Innovation—also known as JJDC—Sofinnova’s MD Start, GT Healthcare Capital, Cathay Health and a half-dozen individual investors.

Moon plans to use the money to continue developing its Maestro robotic system and to help fund the commercialization of the technology. Maestro is essentially a surgical assistant: It offers two flexible arms that lend a hand to surgeons throughout a procedure by holding probes, cameras and other instruments in place.

The additional funding arrived less than a year after Moon’s last venture haul, a series A that closed in June 2022 with $31 million.

Among the individuals who chipped into the latest VC round was Fred Moll, M.D., a previous backer of Moon’s technology and, since the 2022 fundraising, an adviser to the startup’s board.

This time around, Moll—a founder of Intuitive Surgical and of the now-Johnson & Johnson-owned robotic surgery system developer Auris Health—is orbiting even closer to Moon. He’s been appointed independent chair of the board, according to Wednesday’s release.

“Surgery by its nature involves more than two hands. With Maestro, the surgeon can fully control the tasks that would otherwise be done by an assistant but in a much more fluid and more convenient way,” Moll said. “It’s a capability that has not been developed before in robotic surgery and delivers value in any operating room where laparoscopy is performed.”

Meanwhile, Sofinnova Partners Chairman Antoine Papiernik will also come aboard as a member of Moon’s board of directors, while Mohamed Siddeek, head of NVentures, and Steve Oesterle, M.D.—a venture partner of Cathay Health who became a Moon adviser alongside Moll last year—have signed on as board observers.

The last year has been a busy one for Moon, which was founded in Paris in 2019 after being incubated by Sofinnova’s MD Start.

Bolstered by the mid-2022 funding round, the startup racked up regulatory clearances in the U.S. in December and in Europe last month. Both of the green lights allow the Maestro system to be used in laparoscopic procedures; according to the company, more than 18 million soft-tissue surgical procedures performed every year stand to benefit from the robotic help.

The clearances came after Moon wrapped up a Belgium-based study comprising 30 total procedures across seven clinical use cases. All of the procedures were performed in 10 days by a single surgeon, Guy-Bernard Cadière, M.D., Ph.D., who reported in a December release about the study, “This technology is brilliant; it gave me more control throughout the procedure, keeping me confident and less fatigued by the end. Maestro is a great benefit for any surgeon, giving them the freedom to conduct each surgery in the most efficient manner.”