August 24, 2020
TDK Ventures backs handheld ultrasound imaging startup, Exo
A pioneering health information and devices company, Exo (pronounced “Echo”) is TDK Ventures’ first in the point-of-care diagnostics space.
Additional investors include Action Potential Venture Capital, a Corporate VC arm of GlaxoSmithKline and Magnetar Capital, an affiliate of Fiscus Ventures and RIVC Ventures.
Redwood City, California-based Exo develops miniaturized ultrasound devices for applications in emergency medicine, critical care, vascular, anesthesiology, tomography, precision endoscopy, non-invasive neuromodulation, and therapeutic delivery.
TDK Corporation will provide assistance to Exo with its global reach and deep expertise in piezoelectric materials, next generation batteries, sensor fusion, precision manufacturing, and medical electronics.
TDK Corporation (TSE: 6762) announced today that subsidiary TDK Ventures Inc. added Exo (pronounced “Echo”), a game-changing company in ultrasound imaging, to its growing investment portfolio. TDK Ventures’ strives to invest in innovative startups that focus on digital and energy transformation and contribute to sustainability. Exo is reinventing how healthcare practitioners’ triage, diagnose and treat patients at the point-of-care through the use of handheld ultrasound devices.
Exo’s solutions bring high-quality imaging to healthcare professionals at the cost of a modern smartphone due to its miniaturized Piezoelectric Micromachined Ultrasonic Transducer (pMUT) technology, leveraging a combination of advances in nano-materials, advanced signal processing, sensor fusion, and artificial intelligence with the economies and scale of semiconductor manufacturing. Paired with its intuitive cloud-based workflow software, Exo aims to solve chronic issues within hospitals and clinics, such as the lack of interoperability and cumbersome documentation that takes up cycles of physician time. Exo’s platform exemplifies an ideal combination of deep-tech, clinical-grade image quality, and a strong social mission to bring ultrasound technology to the masses at an unrivaled cost.
“The rate of explosive growth of handheld ultrasound devices is a rarity in the medical device market, currently poised to grow ten-fold in revenue in the next five years according to some analyst reports,” said Nicolas Sauvage, Managing Director of TDK Ventures. “When we reviewed the landscape of handheld ultrasound devices, it became clear that Exo not only has the cost-image quality optimum, but is also leveraging advances in AI image recognition, which could minimize the training required to capture diagnostic-quality images. These two fundamental innovations primes Exo to make a profound impact because 75 percent of the world lacks access to ultrasound imaging, hence perfectly aligning with TDK Ventures’ strategy to invest in a sustainable future.
“The team at Exo is creating a platform technology that can drive true adoption of point-of-care ultrasound in emergency rooms and critical care units, can facilitate surgical robotics and endoscopic procedures, and could enable therapeutic modalities in non-invasive neuromodulation and drug-delivery,” said Juan-Pablo Mas, Partner of APVC. “We have a unique opportunity to build multiple category-defining ultrasound solutions and APVC shares the team’s enthusiasm to unwaveringly serve the healthcare professionals and patients whom it can benefit most.”
Ted Koutouzis MD, Managing Director at Fiscus Ventures and RIVC Ventures (affiliates of Magnetar Capital) co-led the round with Action Potential Ventures said, “As a practicing emergency medicine physician, I am extremely excited about the technology being created at Exo. The new silicon piezo chip architecture should enable us to produce extraordinary images at a significant cost advantage and begin to change the clinical paradigm of point-of-care ultrasound in emergency departments across the globe in the near future.”
“TDK is a solid partner for Exo with value-add from the bottom of the technology stack in fundamental materials science to next-generation components in batteries and MEMS modules, in addition to system and data level sensor fusion algorithms to stack images for a seamless, intuitive clinician experience,” said Sandeep Akkaraju, CEO and co-founder of Exo. “We know that nearly 75 percent of the world’s population has no access to medical imaging due to existing systems’ exorbitant costs, need for immense power and complexity to operate. We formed Exo to make imaging available to every nurse, doctor and medic, no matter their location. We were pleased to work with synergy-seeking partners who understand our technology, business model, and mission at the same time. We were impressed by the speed at which TDK Ventures came on board and are looking forward to the ‘TDK goodness’ they can bring to Exo.”
Exo came out of stealth mode in 2019 with Intel Capital leading their Series B round and an impressive list of co-investors. The founders, Sandeep Akkaraju, CEO; Janusz Bryzek, Ph.D., chairman and chief visionary officer; Yusuf Haque, Ph.D., chief technology officer and senior vice president of engineering; and John Kokulis, chief financial officer, have nearly 20 startups among them, along with several large exits.
About TDK Corporation
TDK Corporation is a world leader in electronic solutions for the smart society based in Tokyo, Japan. Built on a foundation of material sciences mastery, TDK welcomes societal transformation by resolutely remaining at the forefront of technological evolution and deliberately “Attracting Tomorrow.” It was established in 1935 to commercialize ferrite, a key material in electronic and magnetic products. TDK's comprehensive, innovation-driven portfolio features passive components such as ceramic, aluminum electrolytic and film capacitors, as well as magnetics, high-frequency, and piezo and protection devices. The product spectrum also includes sensors and sensor systems such as temperature and pressure, magnetic, and MEMS sensors. In addition, TDK provides power supplies and energy devices, magnetic heads and more. These products are marketed under the product brands TDK, EPCOS, InvenSense, Micronas, Tronics and TDK-Lambda. TDK focuses on demanding markets in automotive, industrial and consumer electronics, and information and communication technology. The company has a network of design and manufacturing locations and sales offices in Asia, Europe, and in North and South America. In fiscal 2020, TDK posted total sales of USD 12.5 billion and employed about 107,000 people worldwide.
About TDK Ventures
TDK Ventures Inc. invests in startups to bolster innovation in materials science, energy/power and related areas typically underrepresented in venture capital portfolios. Established in 2019 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of TDK Corporation, the corporate venture company’s vision is to propel the digital and energy transformations of segments such as health and wellness, next-generation transportation, robotics and industrial, mixed reality and the wider IoT/IIoT markets. TDK Ventures will co-invest and support promising portfolio companies by providing technical expertise and access to global markets where TDK operates. Interested startups or investment partners may contact TDK Ventures: www.tdk-ventures.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Exo is a health information and devices company. Exo’s vision is to bring a convergence of technologies to healthcare with devices that will revolutionize how physicians diagnose, triage and treat patients forever. With an initial aim to reinvent ultrasound, Exo is committed to providing high-quality, affordable and easy-to-use medical imaging around the world through its high-performance handheld ultrasound platform. The company is on a mission to enable healthcare professionals to make critical, real-time decisions that ultimately improve patient outcomes. For more information, please visit www.exo.inc or follow @theexoeffect.