The world wowed a few years ago when a very clever startup from Bristol, U.K., came up with 3D-printed bionic limbs for amputees. Uniquely, the limbs were lightweight, cheap to make and could even be made into Iron Man-style arms to enthuse amputee children.
They went on to sign a deal with the huge U.K. National Health Service to bring new technologies to amputees, announced at a TechCrunch Crunch Disrupt.
Today, Open Bionics has successfully raised $5.9 million from investors, including F1’s Williams Advanced Engineering Group.
Their Series A round was led by Foresight Williams Technology EIS Fund, joined by Ananda Impact Ventures and Downing Ventures, which continued to support the company with follow-on funding from their seed round.
The funding marks another success for the Bristol Robotics Lab, arguably the largest in the world, which plays host to other robotics startups such as Reach Robotics, which closed $7.5 million Series A for its augmented reality bots last year.
Open Bionics says it has achieved a price point that means their multi-grip bionic hand is the only advanced device that’s affordable enough to be covered by national healthcare systems in major western markets such as the U.K., France, Germany and the U.S.
The company launched private sales in May 2018 with its “Hero Arm”, which is now the best-selling multi-grip bionic hand in the U.K. and also is selling in France and Spain, with goals to serve more European countries this year. The bionic hands are small enough to fit children as young as nine years old.
The Hero Arm allows amputees to choose between different finger speeds and movements, enabling the wearer to pick up small objects like marbles with a fine pinch or carry shopping baskets with a full-hand grasp.
Samantha Payne and Joel Gibbard, named by The Europas startup awards as the “hottest founders” in Europe, founded the “tech for good” company in 2014.
Payne, co-founder and COO said: “This funding enables us to serve multiple international markets and we’re thrilled to finally be able to deliver bionic hands to amputees and people with limb differences in the USA later this year. We’re exceptionally excited to receive this support from such high calibre investors who not only offer financial backing but incredible experience in commercialisation, measuring impact, and engineering high-performance hardware.”
Gibbard, co-founder and CEO said: “This investment provides crucial capital to help Open Bionics deliver on its vision of making advanced prostheses available to a much wider audience of limb-different users. We look forward to offering the Hero Arm in multiple international markets and continuing the development of great products that solve challenges within mobility and independence.”
Matthew Burke, head of Technology Ventures, Williams Advanced Engineering, said: “Williams Advanced Engineering is excited to work with the team at Open Bionics and share our expertise in product development systems. Alongside the Fund’s investment, Open Bionics will benefit from the engineering and technology experience at Williams and the investment management and growth experience of Foresight’s team of investment professionals. Together this aims to be an ideal combination to deliver for the sector, its customers and the wider U.K. economy.”
Johannes Weber, founder of Ananda Impact Ventures said: “I have been in Kosovo as a NATO soldier in 1999 and during my deployment had to deal with many cases of limb differences. Since then I have always wanted to become more active in the field. At Ananda we are really excited to be supporting Open Bionics and seeing its products changing society’s perceptions around limb difference and drastically changing users’ self image.”