The company behind the world’s first implantable long term brain pressure sensor, New Zealand start- up Kitea Health, has secured $6m funding from investors to scale its clinical trial programme and accelerate entry into global markets.
New Zealand deep-tech venture capital firm Pacific Channel has led the capital round, with backing from Auckland UniServices, Icehouse Ventures, CureKids Ventures, New Zealand Growth Capital Partners and local angel groups.
Kitea Health co-founder and chief executive Dr Simon Malpas says, “The funding received from investors is a major step forward. It enables us to significantly advance our NZ-based clinical trials in 2024 and fast-track our identified pathway to market; in the first instance, this is the US, which we aim to commence by the end of 2025.
The wireless technology developed by Kitea, a University of Auckland Bioengineering Institute spinout, is specifically designed to address major challenges in the management of chronic conditions such as hydrocephalus [an incurable condition which affects more than 1 million people in the US alone] and heart failure.
Dr Malpas explains “The device is roughly the size of a few grains of rice and is capable of remotely monitoring changes to pressure [in the brain for hydrocephalus patients] and sending real-time, accurate information straight to the healthcare professional and patient.
Our current focus is hydrocephalus, a condition caused by the build-up of too much fluid in the brain. This is where we can make the biggest impact in a really short time frame and prove that the technology will make a significant improvement to the health and well-being outcomes of patients and their families.
“Hydrocephalus is a condition that affects mostly young children or the elderly, and while shunts can help alleviate increased pressure, they fail at a high rate, particularly in children. This leaves parents guessing whether every time their child suffers from what is considered an ordinary illness-type symptom - headaches, vomiting and irritability, that they’re actually suffering from increased pressure to the brain, which, unless treated urgently, could be fatal,” said Dr Malpas.
Pacific Channel partner and Kitea board member Kieran Jina says, “For Pacific Channel, leading the investment in Kitea Health was extremely attractive for a number of reasons.
Their solution to monitoring pressure has the potential to drastically change the way chronic health conditions are managed globally, from what has typically been very reactive to a proactive approach. In addition, the team behind the solution has a clear vision of what it will take to capture the large hydrocephalus market and broaden this to other chronic health conditions.
The $6m capital raise investment comes off the back of substantial prior grant funding of $14m from Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Health Research Council, Neurological Foundation and Cure Kids over many years through the Auckland Bioengineering Institute.