Draper Esprit leads $17.5m Series A round in medtech start-up Aktiia

Venture capital firm Draper Esprit has led a $17.5m Series A funding round in hypertension-focused health-tech start-up Aktiia.

Other investors that participated in the round include 415 Capital, Redalpine Venture Partners, Verve Capital and Translink Capital.

Aktiia launched its non-invasive blood pressure monitoring system earlier this year, and it has since amassed a customer base around Europe.

The Swiss start-up’s automated device is worn on the wrist and gathers data from the wearer throughout the day to help better manage hypertension, or high blood pressure. The data is then visualised in a free companion app, which allows a digital summary to be shared with the patient, their physicians or family members.

Hypertension affects around 1.28bn adults worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, and is a major cause of premature death as it increases the risk of heart, brain and kidney diseases.

Aktiia’s core technology originated from decades of research at the Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology under a team led by Aktiia co-founders Dr Mattia Bertschi and Dr Josep Sola, who are experts in cuffless blood pressure monitoring.

“We are excited about expanding access to this technology and the positive impact it can have on reducing major adverse cardiovascular events,” said the company’s CEO, Mike Kisch.

The start-up plans to use the funds to expand its product further into key healthcare markets across Europe. It is looking to grow its commercial footprint with the NHS in the UK and work towards obtaining clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to enable expansion to the US market.

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Prof Melvin Lobo, NHS professor of cardiovascular medicine and director of St Bartholomew’s Hospital blood pressure clinic, called the device “an indisputable game changer” in enabling the medical community gain a better understanding of patients’ blood pressure patterns.

Aktiia has had a presence in Europe since its founding in 2018 in Switzerland. It has received official classification of its product as a medical device in Europe, and recently became an official partner of the International Society of Hypertension and the World Heart Foundation.

Dr Inga Deakin, principal at Draper Esprit, said the company’s clinical validation, patient engagement and market traction so far have given her “every confidence” that Aktiia will “transform how hypertension is measured and managed globally”.

“A key opportunity for health tech now is to help people with long-term conditions live healthier lives with fewer complications. Technology that enables better management of these conditions reduces mortality, hospital admissions and ultimately reduces healthcare-related costs. With personalised monitoring of their condition, patients and healthcare providers can cooperate to improve outcomes,” she added.

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