Activ Surgical: Empowering Surgeons to Save Lives
October 5, 2021 | Jonathan Lynch
Over the past one hundred fifty years, surgery has advanced from operating theaters illuminated by oil lanterns to state-of-the-art facilities utilizing robotic arms performing procedures with superhuman dexterity. Despite these advancements, medical error is responsible for more than a quarter of a million deaths a year in the United States, surpassed only by cancer and heart disease.
Enter Alumni Ventures portfolio company Activ Surgical, founded in 2017 and headquartered in Boston. Activ is a digital surgery company focused on improving surgical efficiency, accuracy, patient outcomes, and accessibility. The company has developed a scalable and patent-protected surgical software platform driven by computer vision, artificial intelligence, analytics, and machine learning. Activ’s core mission is to enhance a surgeon’s intraoperative decision-making and reduce unintended and preventable surgical complications.
Leveraging Cutting-Edge Tech to Solve an Age-Old Problem
Despite modern advances in medical technology, surgeons still rely on decades-old methods to provide guidance as they navigate the human body during operations. Specifically, injected fluorescent medical dyes have been used to help surgeons visualize the blood flow and perfusion in organs in the vicinity of the operation sites. While dyes are largely safe for most of the population, they are not without risk, particularly when it comes to pregnant patients.
Activ’s technology makes it possible to avoid the use of dyes entirely. The company’s proprietary hardware imaging module, ActivSight, will power its first product, ActivINSIGHT. It works seamlessly with existing visualization systems to provide real-time intraoperative visual data and images existing technologies can’t provide to surgeons. Working in tandem, ActivSight and ActivINSIGHT will offer surgical guidance through dynamically generated visual overlays without the need for conventional surgical visual aids.
What We Liked About Activ
FDA Approval: Activ won 510(k) FDA approval in early 2021 for their first product, AcivSight. This is a crucial step for medical devices as it clears the way for wider distribution. The company’s flagship device is on track to be used in operating rooms by the end of 2021.
Patented Technology: Activ was awarded a patent for their technology, ensuring their innovations are protected intellectual property. This brings the company’s total IP portfolio to 30+ worldwide patents and more than 110 original inventions.
Institutional Experience and Expertise: Activ’s team touts a combined 100+ years of medical experience, providing a large body of knowledge to fuel the company’s innovation. Additionally, they are collaborating with tech giants Microsoft, Qualcomm, and Nvidia to integrate advanced features and technology into their products.
How We’re Involved
In July of 2021, Activ raised a $45 million Series B financing led by Cota Capital, joined by new investors including BAM Funds, Magnetar Capital, Mint Ventures, Dream One Vision, and Nvidia. Castor Ventures (for the MIT community) led Alumni Ventures’ participation in the round, alongside sibling funds Nassau Street Ventures (for the Princeton community) and AV’s Total Access Fund. The Castor team built a relationship with the company since its Series A financing through leveraging the Alumni Ventures network to provide value-added introductions. Activ Surgical joins a growing portfolio of market-leading healthcare & med tech companies including Kinsa, Notable Labs, Verge Genomics, and Strateos.