Sep 23, 2020

Wearable bionic ear to offer accessible hearing transformation.

Wearable bionic ear to offer accessible hearing transformation.

Australian startup Augmented Bionics has secured $650,000 in a round led by UK-based VC fund IP Group and included MedTech Actuator™ VC partner Artesian.

This new support will help to advance their non-invasive bionic ear for people with severe to profound hearing loss.

Every year nearly 1.5 million adults worldwide are diagnosed with severe to profound hearing loss – the vast majority of whom receive no hearing help or only have access to technology that does not meet their needs. But Augmented Bionics is working to make it possible for individuals around the world to access non-surgical, safer, more affordable, and easy to use hearing support.

Fitted by a hearing audiologist, the non-invasive bionic ear is worn just like headphones and aims to activate the auditory nerve through magnetic waves from outside the body. This makes it possible for individuals with profound to severe hearing loss to hear and comprehend speech, and to hear sounds from their environment. This is currently only possible through costly surgical alternatives that just a handful of the world’s population with severe to profound hearing loss can access and afford.

Augmented Bionics CEO, Viraj Agnihotri’s first elevator pitch for the technology took place back in 2016, quite literally, in an elevator.

“After speaking to all the hearing clinics across Brisbane, I knew there was a big need for a non-surgical alternative. But I needed 3D models of the human head and simulation and computation software to design the device,” recalls Viraj.

“I didn’t have access to that or know how to use them, so I started hustling for someone in the engineering faculty to help me out and was recommended to a professor. He was a very busy person, and I literally found him in an elevator: we were on level one, I had until level six to convince him.”

The chance encounter connected Viraj with valuable new contacts and resources that would help bring his innovation closer to reality.

Since then, Viraj has established a strong team to advance the technology. Viraj has a background in mechatronics engineering, bioengineering, business, and innovation. His cofounders include Mahanthesh Chandra, an electrical engineer, and Nicholas Jabbour, a biomedical scientist.

The team joined the MedTech Actuator™ in 2018, a 15-month, industry-led, venture-backed program that aggressively funds and accelerates medical, health and biological technology startups alongside venture partner Artesian.

Since joining the MedTech Actuator™ the team have demonstrated their prototype’s effectiveness, received ethical clearance for human research to commence proof-of-concept testing with commercially available magnetic stimulation devices, and secured $650,000 in a round led by IP Group to continue advancing their technology.

“The MedTech Actuator’s support on all aspects of medical device commercialisation and access to investors through pitches have been very beneficial,” says Viraj.

“I would recommend the MedTech Actuator to every MedTech, HealthTech and BioTech entrepreneur that I come across.”

To learn more about Augmented Bionics and follow their journey go to www.augmentedbionics.com.

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