This morning FundamentalVR, maker of a virtual reality surgical training platform, landed $1.4 million in new funding from investment company Tern Plc. This latest investment brings the company’s total funding to $2.6 million. It also furthers return investor Tern Plc stake in the company, bringing its investments to 34.5 percent of the startup’s holdings.
This announcement comes on the heels of a new three-year deal the London-based startup inked with Mayo Clinic to develop new simulations and validate its technology. The pair plan on zeroing in on general surgery before moving on to new areas such as patient-specific simulations from digital imaging resources, according to a statement. The new partnership will give FundamentalVR access to experts in the field and 3D modeling resources.
"We will continue to develop deeper simulations moving into the soft tissue and then patient specific space," Richard Vincent, CEO of FundamentalVR, wrote to MobiHealthNews in an email. "We will widen access to our platform and build out deep data insight and knowledge to aid surgeons, educators and the industry."
FundamentalVR’s surgical training platform combines VR with haptic sensors so that a user receives physical feedback simulating the feel of performing the operation. Each user can log into their personal account and track progress, access assessments and get feedback. It also allows administrators to give feedback to students or surgical staff.
The tool is expected to help the Mayo Clinic with training new doctors and surgeons but the uses could expand in the future.
"The platform is aimed primarily at residents at present however the ability to rehearse, practise and refine skills is applicable to all stages of development and levels of capability," Vincent wrote. "Our vision is to have Fundamental Surgery within arm’s length of any surgeon, providing a safe, repeatable and measurable place to practice."
Why it matters
VR technology could be used to improve medical education for students, making the learning experience more lifelike and to help surgeons better plan for operations. According to the company, 5 million people around the world are without properly trained surgeons. The company positions itself as an alternative to traditional training methods, and said the collaboration with the Mayo Clinic could speed up the program’s development.
“This collaboration with the Mayo Clinic will dramatically accelerate our progress and ensures that the FundamentalVR team has access to the very best surgical knowledge,” Vincent said in a statement. “Mayo Clinic and FundamentalVR are both ultimately focused on improving patient outcomes and with this in mind we share the belief that the comparative data insight and measurement available through our platform will have a profoundly positive impact on the wellbeing of people around the world. Our haptic [and] immersive VR platform has already proven itself to offer a new way to allow skills development and we are proud that this has been recognised by one of the USA’s leading and most inspirational medical groups.”
What's the trend
Virtual reality has been moving its way into the healthcare space for some time now. FundamentalVR, along with several other companies including Osso VR, are exploring the training and pre-operative planning uses for the technology.
The Mayo Clinic isn’t the only provider getting in on virtual reality training tools. In April the University of Nebraska Medical Center jumped on the concept, announcing its plans to build a new $119 million facility meant to help physicians and nurses train for next-generation care using VR and augmented reality tools. That facility is expected to include a learning center dedicated to helping professionals conduct clinical training exercises and develop surgical skills through simulations technologies, VR and AR experiences, and holographic technologies.
It has also been a busy year for Fundamental VR itself, as it launched its signature product Fundamental Surgery in August. In addition to the VR launch, the company also offers mixed reality simulation, where the user wears a MultiMR HoloLens, which creates a holographic experience.
On the record
“FundamentalVR has proven its agility to rapidly deliver on its strategy since our initial investment. We are really pleased to provide this follow-on investment in this innovative company,” Tern CEO, Al Sisto, said in a statement. “They have an ambitious strategy, forward revenue visibility and now, a prestigious content partner that recognises the ability of their platform to revolutionise surgical training and ultimately, patient outcomes. We are pleased with their execution and the value it is creating in the business and therefore delighted to have increased our ownership position.”