NAMUR, Belgium, Dec. 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Sunrise, a healthtech company founded in 2015 in Belgium, has just closed a €3.25 million fundraising round. Led by Kurma Partners, this round of financing, in which the Vives-IUF fund linked to UCLouvain and Namur Invest also participated, has the objective of launching and internationally marketing the company's first diagnostic product for sleep apnea. In addition to this €3.25 million round of funding, there is also €3.25 million in non-dilutive funding from the European Innovation Council, launched in 2021 by the European Commission to transform scientific ideas into promising innovations, and the Walloon Region.
Sleep apnea is both one of the most significant and one of the most under-diagnosed conditions in the world. It affects nearly 1 billion people worldwide. This public health problem affects 49% of men and 23% of women over the age of 40. Yet, in 80% of cases, it remains undiagnosed even though it is linked to serious diseases such as hypertension, atrial fibrillation, strokes, diabetes and depression. At the request of the American Association of Sleep Medicine, a study estimated the cost to society of an undiagnosed patient at an average of $6,366/year, compared to $2,105 if he or she is diagnosed.
A new quick and easy way to diagnose sleep apnea.
To meet these needs, Sunrise is developing a new solution to analyze sleep using a 3-gram sensor, coupled with Artificial Intelligence. "We have developed the measurement of a new biosignal: we analyze mandibular movements during sleep. The sensor communicates with a mobile application. The data collected is processed thanks to artificial intelligence and can be transmitted to the doctor the next morning. This saves time and makes diagnosis easier" explains Laurent Martinot, co-founder and CEO of Sunrise. CE Marked as certified medical device, this sensor is less intrusive and restrictive than a sleep test performed in hospital with polysomnography. "Many experts tell us that about 35% of patients don't go for it" adds Laurent Martinot.
Scientific and technological recognition in the USA
The device clinical validation was published in JAMA – Journal of the American Medical Association in 2020, with worldwide experts presenting the sensor's excellent performance in terms of sensitivity and specificity. At the beginning of 2021, Sunrise was awarded a prize in the "health and well-being" category at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2021 in Las Vegas. In the United States, the solution is under revision by the FDA, while in France, the Haute Autorité de la Santé (French Health Authority) is studying the use of the Sunrise technologyfor faster diagnosis in 14 leading sleep centers. The funds raised will be used to launch and market the device in these countries.
"Thanks to the success of this fundraising, which brings together leading investors, Sunrise has reached a new stage in its development. It confirms the investors' confidence in the team's ability to accelerate the company's technological development, to continue to innovate and bring to market easier to use, lighter and more comfortable technologies for sleep apnea patients worldwide."
Laurent Martinot, CEO of Sunrise
"We are pleased to support Sunrise. The rigor and commitment of its teams made us believe in their vision very early on. Sleep-disordered breathing is a real public health issue: it is one of the main causes of serious illnesses throughout the world. Sunrise is building the future of sleep diagnosis, to make it accessible to the largest number of people and to help doctors deal with the increase in the number of sleep tests linked to growing awareness of this serious disease and the significant prevalence of sleep disorders in the population."
Philippe Peltier, Partner at Kurma Partners
"For decades, the St. Elisabeth pulmonology center (UCLouvain) has been engaged in research on sleep disorders and has been highlighting these public health issues. Meeting this unmet medical need for patients is the mission of Sunrise. This investment illustrates our desire to promote and accelerate scientific breakthroughs in this complex field by bringing together the strengths of academia, industry and public authorities."
Philippe Durieux, CEO Sopartec – VIVES Funds
Founded in 2015 by Laurent and Pierre Martinot, Sunrise aims to democratize access to care for sleep apnea syndrome. This serious respiratory disorder is known for multiplying mortality risk by factor 3. The Sunrise innovation is based on more than ten years of research : the technology detects respiratory events based on the analysis of the respiratory drive (which is reflected in the contractions of the respiratory muscles and the movements these cause at the level of the chin). In 2021, it gained an award at the CES in Las Vegas. Currently, about twenty people (located in Belgium and France) work for Sunrise, a scale-up that aims to market its medical device in the United States and France.
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 Frost & Sullivan, Hidden Health Crisis Costing America Billions (2016) – page 4: https://aasm.org/resources/pdf/sleep-apnea-economic-crisis.pdf