The mention of wearable tech usually conjures up an image of an Apple Watch or a Fitbit, not a prosthetic limb. With its tech-enabled adjustable prosthetics, LIM Innovations wants to add to the definition of "wearables."
The San Francisco-based company has raised an $18 million round of funding to continue innovating and scaling its line of intelligent custom sockets for lower-limb amputees. The investment comes from a group of corporate investors and a European family fund.
LIM's new financing is representative of the steady flow of VC money that's gone into the healthcare devices space over the last five years. Since the beginning of 2017, US-based companies in that specific sector have secured nearly $4 billion, per the PitchBook Platform. The healthcare devices & supplies space is part of the healthcare industry as a whole that has raked in around $14 billion from VC investors so far this year.
VC investment in US healthcare since 2012
For LIM, the new funding brings startup's equity funding to date to $21 million. That doesn't include an investment from the US Department of Defense in January 2016, which came as part of a partnership that has the two entities working together on efforts surrounding digital health.
"We are moving wearable tech into a space that makes it much more meaningful, which is disability," co-founder Andrew Pedtke (pictured) told PitchBook. "That whole space has historically been ignored from healthcare and exists in a sort of dark corner where there isn't a lot of awareness."
Pedtke, an orthopedic surgeon, formed LIM with prosthetist Garrett Hurley while practicing at University of California San Francisco. After doing some research, they found that the lynchpin to improving amputee function and performance lay in the point where the prosthetic connects to the human body.
LIM's prosthetics are flexible, modular and lined with soft material. Parts of the sockets are 3D printed at the company's headquarters. The company also uses an in-house manufacturing tool that Pedkte says works better than 3D printing.
Pedkte explained that because of the fragmented nature of the amputee population, no streamlined channel exists with resources for that group. Many prosthetics are eventually discarded by amputees.
"We now see a pretty high rate of abandonment of prosthetics because the core unmet need is not being met," he said. "The real unmet need, the prosthetic socket, is still a medical device that hasn't been modernized. That's what LIM is doing."