Only two years after its original founding, Renovia Inc. has closed on a $42-million Series B funding round. This round will help Renovia improve and expand upon its pipeline of medical technology devices for treating and diagnosing pelvic floor disorders like stress urinary incontinence. Its CEO, Marc Beer, joined others in expressing excitement about the development, which will allow the Boston-based medtech firm to continue to improve existing products and to develop new ones. In the space of just 24 months, Renovia has transformed the way in which some of today’s most common pelvic floor disorders are diagnosed and treated—and the company owes much of its success to Marc Beer and his unique blend of experience, education and expertise.
Shortly after Renovia opened for business in August 2016, the company closed on a round of Series A funding that laid the groundwork for the product development that it intended to pursue. Marc Beer and others on the team became interested in new technology that had been developed to help women to correctly perform exercises for strengthening their pelvic floor muscles. Much of the funding that the company received in its Series A was used to acquire the technology from another entity.
The Series B funding round, which happened on Tuesday, August 21, included $32.3 million in Series B equity and $10 million in venture debt for a total of $42.3 million. Executives from Renovia have stated that the funding will be used for the testing and development of four additional therapeutic and diagnostic products, including a new generation of its Leva pelvic digital health system. Funding will go toward corporate development; future clinical trials; improvements to the product development pipeline; and future commercial launches.
History of Funding for Women’s Health
An early Renovia investor, The Longwood Fund—a health care-focused investment firm—joined the Series B funding round. The round was led by Ascension Ventures of Missouri and Perceptive Advisors of New York. The round included a mix of investors who have invested in Renovia in the past and investors who are new to investing in the firm, which is encouraging because it suggests that new investors are being attracted to the promising technology. The Leva device and other products in the company’s pipeline are designed for improving pelvic floor health in women—an issue that is likely to become even more widespread as the baby boomer generation enters its golden years.
Since its founding two years ago, Renovia has worked at a fevered pace to bring new products to market. So far, the company has found most of its success with its Leva pelvic digital health system for women. The pelvic training product is designed to help women to perform pelvic floor strengthening exercises correctly, which is crucial. Without performing the exercises the right way, women may think that they are strengthening those crucial muscles when they really aren’t. Many conditions are directly linked to poor pelvic floor health and strength, so it is important to perform such exercises correctly.
In statements regarding the successful Series B funding round, mention was made that some of the funds that were raised will be used to develop and market the next generation of the Leva device. Specific information about the upgrades and changes that will be made to the device has not been released yet, but they will likely apply to the device itself and to the accompanying app, my leva, which is installed on users’ smartphones and used to relay and store information about the device and how it is used.
It is estimated that approximately 250 million women around the world suffer from urinary incontinence. In many cases, pelvic floor disorders like stress incontinence and urge incontinence are caused by or made worse by weak pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor is made up of interconnected muscles. Because it is located right below the bladder, it has a direct and profound impact on the ability to retain urine. With stress incontinence, for example, actions like coughing and laughing create movement that places stress on the bladder, which can cause leaks. Renovia, which was co-founded by Marc Beer, seeks to develop products that help to improve pelvic floor health through the innovative use of technology.
Background of CEO Marc Beer
A graduate of Miami University in Ohio, where he earned a Bachelor of Science, Marc Beer has more than 25 years of commercialization and development experience in pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, devices and biotechnology. In August 2016, he co-founded Renovia Inc., with Yolanda Lurie and Ramon Iglesias, MD, and they quickly completed a Series A funding round. Of course, Renovia is just the latest in a long string of successful experiences for Beer, who has developed a track record that touches upon some of the most important convergences of technology and medicine.
Considering his previous positions and accomplishments, it is easy to see why Marc Beer was regarded as the optimal leader for Renovia. The $42-million Series B funding that he and his team just closed is just the latest in a long line of positive developments for not just Renovia but for Beer himself. Marc Beer really garnered attention and came into his own when he became the founding CEO of ViaCell, a biotech company that specialized in the collection, preservation and development of umbilical cord stem cells. Under his direction, the fledgling startup grew to include more than 300 employees, and it went public in 2005. Two years later, the firm was acquired by Perkin Elmer.
Beer’s work with ViaCell was just the latest of many experiences that he would have in the worlds of technology and medicine. Prior to his work there, he held several different positions within Genzyme, including VP of global marketing. Before that, he held several marketing and sales positions within the diagnostic and pharmaceutical divisions of Abbott Laboratories. Every position that Beer held through the years provided him with new insights into not just medicine but what people need and want out of it—experiences that would come very much in handy in his work with Renovia.
Big Plans for Investment
In press release concerning the $42-million Series B, Beer stated that the funding will be used to support Renovia’s clinical trials, product development pipeline, corporate development and future commercial launches. One of those launches appears to be the next-generation iteration of the Leva pelvic digital health system. As noted previously, no information regarding upgrades or changes to the device or its technology has been released.
With the current generation Leva, a flexible probe is placed in the vagina and stays there while exercises are performed. It connects to a transmitter that uses Bluetooth technology to send data to the my leva smartphone app. Sensor technologies in the probe allow users to see the position of the pelvic floor muscles—in particular, the levator plate muscles—and the movement that is created from the exercises that are performed.
Pelvic floor muscles are no different than other muscles in the body in that they can be worked out and strengthened over time. For the exercises to work, though, they must be performed correctly—and that is easier said than done for many women. The correct motion is one that can be difficult to describe, so being able to see what is happening on the screen is very helpful. The device also keeps track of prior training session results, which can be referred to by users to track progress and to ensure that the exercises are being performed on a regular basis.
Marc Beer and the rest of the team at Renovia also plan to use some of the new funding that has been secured for a new clinical trial. The new study, which is expected to start in October 2018, will compare the progress that women who use its Leva device for strengthening pelvic floor muscles to that of women who perform Kegel exercises only without the help of the device or app. According to ClinicalTrials.gov, Renovia is expecting to enroll around 225 participants, and it will be interesting to see what the study reveals