Galway start-up Kite Medical secures €1.5m in funding

20 Apr 2018

NUI Galway. Image: STLJB/Shutterstock

Kite Medical raises funding to develop a pain-free test to detect kidney reflux in children.

NUI Galway BioInnovate programme spin-out Kite Medical has closed a €1.5m investment round.

The round comprises a mix of private investment and Enterprise Ireland high-potential start-up (HPSU) funding.

‘Nurturing innovative start-up companies with global ambition is a key focus for Enterprise Ireland’

The medtech company is developing a novel device that offers a pain-free, non-invasive means of detecting kidney reflux in children.

“After observing the existing procedure used to detect kidney reflux in children during the BioInnovate programme [while spending time with her co-founder, leading paediatric surgeon Prof Prem Puri, key opinion leader and pioneer of kidney reflux treatment], I felt that there had to be a better solution, and developing a child-friendly alternate has become my passion,” explained Sarah Loughney, founder of Kite Medical.

Game-changing medtech device

Kidney reflux is prevalent in up to 2.5pc of children and in 30-40pc of those presenting with urinary tract infections.

The condition involves reflux of urine from the bladder to the kidneys, and the consequences of missed diagnosis are severe, including chronic kidney disease.

The current diagnostic test requires a catheter, forced filling of the bladder and radiation exposure, resulting in pain and trauma for the children.

In contrast, Kite Medical’s device will be a wearable solution where the child will wear sensors to detect possible reflux over normal urination cycles.

The device will be a game-changer in transferring the detection of kidney reflux from the hospital to an office-based primary care setting and can even facilitate monitoring at home. The Kite Medical device serves a market of almost $500m, created by the ease of use and child-friendly nature of the innovation.

Kite Medical’s portable device will also take advantage of the growth in digital healthcare trends.

Private investors include members of the Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN) MedTech Syndicate Nominees Ltd, in addition to the Western Development Commission. Funding has also been provided by international venture capital firm SOSV from its Ireland fund, which is backed by Enterprise Ireland.

“Kite Medical is a great fit for our portfolio; we love products that provide better care while reducing suffering and we are delighted to provide Kite Medical with expertise and capital,” explained SOSV general partner Bill Liao.

The company was one of 10 start-ups that pitched to investors on the Enterprise Ireland Big Ideas stage in 2015.

Joe Healy, manager of the HPSU division at Enterprise Ireland, added: “Since then, the company is progressing with developing a medical device that will significantly improve the process of kidney reflux screening for children and their parents all over the world.

“Nurturing innovative start-up companies with global ambition is a key focus for Enterprise Ireland, and we look forward to continuing to support the company on its journey as a high-potential start-up.”

Disclosure: SOSV is an investor in Silicon Republic

NUI Galway. Image: STLJB/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years