Clive Cookson writes for Financial Times
UK robotics start-up CMR Surgical has raised $600m in what it says was a record private financing round for a medical technology company, pushing its total funds raised above $1bn and giving it a $3bn valuation. The funding will also help the Cambridge-based company expand research and development, adding more data processing and digital information to its robotic system.
This is an unusual model of start-up with a SoftBank investment. I don’t write about VC’s and startups in healthcare because most of them thrive on hype models. However, surgical equipment is different. The initial capex is huge (to fund something like this) with a few parallels. Robotic systems are an overkill of conventional laparoscopic surgeries. but what distinguishes them is the ability of the on-board “computer vision” and data to understand the surgical steps. It would then be used to diversify different business lines to “train surgeons” in the process .
All today’s surgical robots work as dexterous assistants, helping human surgeons who control their movements. Autonomous surgical robots are not expected to operate independently for many years.
Nope. 5G will change that. If you look at what SoftBank has gone out to invest, AI remains their defining motto. As a private company, CMR is not obligated to show results. It means they can extend soft loans to prospective hospitals – that’s why they are expanding where DaVinci won’t.
Like it or not, autonomous surgeries will happen in the near future. It is once the edge computing and 5G becomes affordable for the hospitals.