Level Ex takes in $11M for mobile physician training games

By Dave Muoio
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Chicago-based Level Ex announced today that it has received $11 million in first round funding. The financing was led by 4490 Ventures, with additional participation from JAZZ Venture Partners, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, and other unnamed investors.

Level Ex develops video games that act as training simulators for medical specialists and are created using real footage of surgeries. The company’s first app, Airway EX, launched last year for iOS and Android, and allowed anesthesiologists, otolaryngologists, critical care specialists, emergency room physicians, and pulmonologists to perform several different surgical procedures on a virtual airway with realistic feedback for correct or incorrect actions.

“Over a billion consumers worldwide play video games — products designed and built by combining cutting-edge tech with a deep understanding of human psychology. Doctors, in contrast, are stuck with dated formats using technology at least 20 years behind the games industry,” said Sam Glassenberg, founder and CEO of Level Ex, said in a statement. “Now, we’re finally bridging this gap, and providing doctors with ultra-realistic visuals and gameplay mechanics to advance their skills using the mobile devices they already own. The reception has been overwhelming, and now this new funding will enable Level Ex to rapidly expand into new products and medical specialties that address this gap on a much larger scale.”

Along with Level Ex’s current industry and institutional partnerships, the company said in the statement that it is currently pursuing additional professional organizations to offer its product as a source of continuing medical education credits. The new funding will also be used to scale up app development and staff, and further explore virtual reality and augment reality experiences in new specialties, such as gastroenterology and cardiology.

“Level Ex is disrupting the $30 billion global industry of how medical device and pharmaceutical companies engage and educate physicians on new products,” Dan Malven, managing director of 4490 Ventures, said in a statement. “The Level Ex team has a unique combination of cutting-edge technological skills and a deep understanding of the unmet needs of physicians, medical societies, and medical device and pharmaceutical companies. Level Ex is bringing all these stakeholders together with commercial applications that improve the skills and knowledge of healthcare providers globally, leading to healthier people worldwide.”

Outside of surgical training, video games have been employed throughout healthcare to treat and analyze patients. For instance, a recent University of California, San Francisco study validated Akili Interactive Labs’ Project Evo (originally developed as NeuroRacer) as a tool to improve cognitive control in children with sensory processing disorder. Another randomized clinical trial published last month showed how NeuroPlus’ EEG-controlled video game helped children managed their ADHD. Mobile games can also be used to advance disease understanding, as is the case with Deutsche Telekom’s Sea Hero Quest and the data it collects on spacial navigation and dementia.