Onward raises funding
In a recent development, the company has raised $32M (approx €26.54M) in a fresh round of funding. The round was led by Invest-NL, the Dutch impact investor, and Olympic Investments, the private investment arm of the Onassis Foundation.
In addition, new and existing investors also participated in the fundraise, including medical technology investors LSP, INKEF Capital, Gimv, and Wellington Partners.
John de Koning, Partner at LSP, says, “Onward’s ARC Therapies have the potential to significantly improve outcomes for those living with spinal cord injury.”
The company was formed in 2014 and is currently led by CEO Dave Marver and researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL). Onward’s ARC Therapy, which can be delivered by implantable (ARC-IM) or external (ARC-EX) systems, is designed to deliver targeted, programmed stimulation of the spinal cord to restore movement and other functions in people with spinal cord injury.
ARC-IM and ARC-EX have each been awarded Breakthrough Device Designation by the FDA. ARC-EX is currently undergoing clinical trials in the US, Canada, UK, and Western Europe in a pivotal study called Up-LIFT – commenced in January 2021 with plans to enroll 65 subjects at up to 15 centers globally.
To ensure the benefits of the ARC Therapy, all enrolled subjects will first undergo a guided, in-clinic conventional functional task practice (FTP) program for about two months to regain their upper extremity (UE) function. Both of Onward’s technology platforms have been awarded Breakthrough Device Designation by the FDA.
Onward is headquartered at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven, the Netherlands and the EPFL Innovation Park in Lausanne, Switzerland. The company also has a presence in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Use of the funds
The raised capital will be used by Onward to fund the continued development and commercialisation of its ARC Therapy. The company plans to commercialise two technology platforms, an implantable system called ARC-IM and an external system called ARC-EX.
Dave Marver, CEO of Onward, says, “We are deeply committed to developing and commercialising research breakthroughs, bringing them out of the laboratory and into the clinic. This funding will enable Onward to sustain our quest to help people with spinal cord injury enjoy life in every way that matters to them.”
Onward’s pipeline technologies
The company is developing two technology platforms, the first is an external, non-invasive platform called ARCEX. It consists of a wearable stimulator and wireless programmer.
With ARCEX Therapy, the company aims to improve movement and strength in the hands and upper limbs of people with spinal cord injury compared to rehabilitation training alone. Investigators in the US, Canada, and Europe are currently screening candidates for participation in the Up-LIFT Study.
The second is an implantable platform called ARCIM. It consists of an implantable pulse generator and lead that is placed in direct contact with the spinal cord. The system is controlled by wearable components and a smartwatch. The Stimulation Movement Overground (STIMO) study demonstrated the ability of this technology to enable long-paralysed people to stand and walk again with little or no assistance.
STIMO is a clinical study for spinal cord injured patients. It combines two different treatments: 1) Precise epidural electrical stimulation of the spinal cord and 2) Robot-assisted locomotion (walking) training.
The company mentions on its website that the potential indications it may explore for ARCIM include walking, standing, reduction in spasticity, improved blood pressure regulation, sexual function, and bladder/bowel control. Onward expects to begin trials within 24 months.