Evonik Venture Capital, the VC arm of German chemicals company Evonik, has announced an investment in Meditool, a Chinese startup specializing in PEEK 3D printed implants for neuro and spinal surgery. Evonik is the lead investor in a “high single-digit million-euro” fundraising round for the Shanghai-based medtech startup.
Meditool’s 3D printing technology consists of both hardware and software systems. The latter enables users to read and process MRI and CT images and generates 3D printable models of the anatomies in question. The 3D printer hardware then builds the models and implants using a Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) polymer supplied by Evonik. Meditool’s medical 3D printing solution helps to reduce the risk associated with surgical procedures and improves patient recovery times.
“This is our first direct investment in China and our first direct investment after initiating our second venture capital fund this year,” commented Bernhard Mohr, head of Evonik Venture Capital. “Meditool is a good example of how venture capital is helping Evonik secure access to disruptive technologies.”
“Meditool’s technology pays directly into our strategy of expanding in high-tech applications for our additive manufacturing materials,” added Thomas Grosse-Puppendahl, head of the Evonik’s innovation growth field Additive Manufacturing. “Medical applications are of particular interest and our high performance polymers have already been proven as a reliable implant material in other applications such as dental.”
Today, metal is the material most commonly used for manufacturing implants, though this could change in the future as materials such as ceramics and advanced polymers like PEEK become increasingly sought after. Compared with metal, PEEK implants are less thermally conductive, meaning that they are less at risk of heating up or cooling down in the patient’s body. The material is also biocompatible and is safe for undergoing CT and MRI scanning.
Being able to 3D print PEEK implants for orthopedic surgery could offer a number of advantages. For one, the implants could be customized to the patient, reducing the risk of an ill-fitting or uncomfortable implant, which could lead to a difficult recovery and follow-up operations.
“Meditool is one of the pioneers in developing 3D printed PEEK medical implants,” said Ken Jin, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Meditool. “Evonik has been our trusted partner in materials supply. The venture investment will be an extra boost to our endeavor to bring innovative solutions to patients and surgeons in China and the rest of the world.”
Evonik’s investment in Meditool marks its first direct investment in a China-based company. The Shanghai-based startup has also received backing from ZN Ventures, Morningside Ventures and Puhua Capital.
“China is a key growth market for Evonik and one of the main drivers of innovation worldwide,” said Claas Klasen, President Evonik Asia North region. “It not only fosters leap-frog technology, it has the population and growing middle-class to drive fast-paced demand.”