Ottawa VR startup lands $1M in seed funding
May 5, 2021
OTTAWA – Realize Medical, a startup whose trail-blazing VR platform could be used by clinicians for surgical planning and other procedures, has landed $1 million in angel funding as it prepares to ramp up commercialization of its software.
The company announced it has officially secured the seed round, led by the Capital Angel Network with additional participation from Maple Leaf Angels and York Angels.
The two-year-old firm has nine employees and plans to use the fresh equity to expand its sales and marketing team. It also intends to hire additional software developers and engineers as it lays the groundwork for a broader rollout of its products later this year.
“The appetite is there. The interest is there. We think we have some really game-changing technology, and people have told us that,” co-founder and CEO Justin Sutherland (pictured) told the Ottawa Business Journal.
Realize Medical’s system, dubbed Elucis, allows medical engineers to “draw” complex 3D images such as the inner workings of a patient’s knee in a VR environment using a hand-held stylus.
Sutherland, a medical clinician at the Ottawa Hospital and a professor at the University of Ottawa, says his company’s tech will make such 3D models more affordable and accessible to hospitals and educational institutions.
The system could also be used for patient education, allowing a patient who needs brain surgery, for example, to visualize how the operation will go simply by strapping on a VR headset and being guided through the process step by step.
Sutherland says 3D medical models give a far more complete picture of the inner workings of the human body than traditional two-dimensional images from MRIs and CT scans. He equates current technology to a mechanic trying to troubleshoot a problem by looking at a photo of a motor.
The company began gaining momentum last year, raising $270,000 in a friends-and-family round before signing a deal to use software giant Logitech’s high-tech styluses in its platform.
So far, a handful of customers have purchased the software for research purposes. But the firm really expects to start firing on all cylinders once it gets the green light from regulators to sell the product to hospitals for medical use, approval it’s hoping comes before 2021 is out.
Management was initially eyeing a seed round in the $1.5-million range, but scaled back its expectations after testing the waters and realizing its market niche was a bit too narrow and its profile a little too low to spark that much interest from big-name venture capitalists.
However, the company has set “aggressive goals” for the next 12 months, including doubling its headcount and earning $1 million in revenues. After further demonstrating its potential, it will then be time to go back to the capital markets.