Melbourne hearing tech startup Hemideina taking on Cochlear with $10m Series A raise

Melbourne hearing tech startup Hemideina taking on Cochlear with $10m Series A raise

Hemideina co-founders Dr Elizabeth Williams (left) and Dr Kate Lomas (right).

A female-led medical technology company is lifting the frequency of its founders' plans to develop a more convenient hearing implant that could challenge industry giant Cochlear (ASX: COH), securing $10 million in a Series A capital raise.

Founded in 2017 by research scientists Dr Kate Lomas and Dr Elizabeth Williams, Hemideina draws on Lomas' experience as a biologist studying a New Zealand insect - the hemideina crassidens, which can hear in the same auditory range as humans.

As a result the pair have developed an architectural redesign of the cochlear hearing implant called the Hera Wireless Implant System, comprising an external, small in-ear bud with the company's proprietary technology and an implantable receiver that stimulates the nerves in a part of the inner ear known as the cochlea.

The funds raised in the fully subscribed capital raising led by Henslow will be used to support two technical milestones for the system - an end-to-end prototype tested for performance and safety, followed by pre-clinical testing of its unique stimulation strategy for improved audiological response which will be a precursor to human clinical trials.

"We are incredibly proud of the high-calibre work to date, which has contributed to building confidence around our technology with investors and this successful raise," says Williams, Hemideina's CEO.

"Our goal is to deliver a paradigm shift in cochlear implant performance to people suffering from severe-to-profound hearing loss and make the world of sound more accessible through our technology.

"Although over 60 million people suffer from hearing loss globally, only one million people have received cochlear implant treatment since its invention about 40 years ago, making this a hugely underserved market."

The latest raise means that Escala Partners, InterValley Ventures and Geoni Capital are major investors that have been added to the share register.

The company has secured around $20 million in grants and equity capital to date, with considerable support from foundational shareholders and government funding via the Australian Government through Accelerating Commercialisation and Growth Grants (elements of the Entrepreneurs’ Programme), MTP Connect’s BioMedTech Horizons Program and the R&D Tax Incentive Program.

"The successful completion of the company’s technical and commercial goals will result in a significant valuation inflection point for Hemideina providing the Company with multiple strategic options as it progresses to market," says Hemideina's chairman Andrew Maxwell.

The group has already begun hiring processes to build the team with the goal of filling eight new roles before 2022.

Hemideina highlights the main benefits of its implant system as its miniature size and discreet form, taking advantage of the ear's natural contours for directionality, improving hearing-in-noise and filtering out background or ambient noise.

If the next technical milestones are reached, they would demonstrate Hemideina’s differentiated sound capture and auditory nerve stimulation have a high probability of providing improved hearing-in-noise, music enjoyment, emotion perception and tonal language perception above conventional cochlear implant systems performance.

Williams says the company is pleased to have such enthusiastic and supportive investors on board, who share the founders' vision to challenge the status quo and see the opportunity that Hemideina presents to disrupt the established and large global market with an innovative new approach to hearing device implant technology.

"Based on the significant unmet clinical need, the global aging population and increased prevalence of hearing loss, we’ve observed that investors place a high value on hearing treatment companies and Hemideina should not be an exception to that rule," Williams says.

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