ABK Biomedical has raised more than $9 million in an over-subscribed round of equity funding that closed last August. The larger equity base has allowed the company to borrow $3 million from the Atlantic Innovation Fund.
The Halifax-based medical device maker revealed that it closed the Series A funding round – one of the largest in Atlantic Canada last year – during discussions about its latest borrowing from the AIF, a fund operated by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
ABK is working to improve a process used to kill some forms of tumour: tiny beads cling to tumours, depriving them of blood flow and thereby shrinking or killing them. The company hopes that its first product – which is now awaiting regulatory approval in the U.S. – will be one of the first beads on the market that can be seen by x-ray, and this will help doctors assess how well the treatment is working.
As well as helping to finance regulatory applications, the company said the new funds will help it to manufacture its products in Nova Scotia once it receives regulatory clearance.
“The AIF funding announced yesterday will be supporting some of the most advanced medical device manufacturing capabilities in this region, and will help us to succeed as an Atlantic Canadian medical device company that will manufacture locally and sell novel life-saving products globally,” said CEO Bob Abraham in an email Friday.
It had been known that ABK was raising money, though the size of the round was surprising. Abraham said the company was originally after $7.6 million in funding but it attracted more commitments than expected, with most of the funding coming from the U.S. and Asia. Innovacorp, which had invested in the company previously, contributed $1.1 million to the round.
“This significant foreign investment came as a result of the recognition of the value of our portfolio of imageable embolic products in development, the great team we had assembled and importantly, the recognition of the significant support ABK receives in Atlantic Canada through organizations such as ACOA,” said Abraham.
ABK – which last raised funding in 2014 through the Halifax-based First Angel Network and Wilmington Investor Network of North Carolina – was one of several Nova Scotian startups to close funding rounds of $8 million or more last year. Halifax’s Manifold, Affinio, Metamaterial Technologies and Liverpool, NS-based Aqualitas all closed major rounds. (The Aqualitas round may be considered to be more project financing for its core cannabis business.)
The next big news for ABK is likely to be regulatory clearance in the U.S. for its first product, the x-ray-visible beads. This product is currently being evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration in a 510k application, which establishes whether a device is safe and effective. ABK hopes to gain approval later this year, “after which we are planning a controlled launch into the U.S. market,” said Abraham. He added the company hopes for Health Canada approval in late 2019.
Abraham also said the company is working on another series of beads, the Y-90 radioembolic product, which actually emits radiation. “We are quite excited about the potential of this product to be a game changer in our field,” said Abraham, adding that the regulatory requirements mean it will have a longer road to commercialization.
ABK is also in the early stages of developing a degradable bead which will block blood supply to tumours then disappear from the body after a short period of time.
Disclosure: ACOA and Innovacorp are clients of Entrevestor.