The Silicon Review
Deneb Medical is committed to overcoming human limitations in surgery and to do so, it focuses its activity on developing surgical systems that can identify and discriminate living tissue in real-time in a surgical setup. Deneb’s first goal is to develop a robotic surgical system that performs craniotomies and laminectomies (spine surgeries) avoiding the risk of having incidental, unintended damages to the brain and medulla. To do so the system provides the surgeon with a superhuman-eye-functionality.
Founded in 2014 Deneb Medical’s product development approach is to integrate existing technologies which are already being used in other business sectors so that these technologies can be safe in a surgical setup. Additionally, Deneb develops AI algorithms and control architectures that can integrate all these technologies and the data they generate, so that everything can work seamlessly.
It was an intrinsic interest of both cofounders Aritz Lazkoz and Juan Arregui to set up a company in the MedTech sector that led the project. Both of the co-founders have a strong background in the integration of technologically complex systems for the railway sector and they wanted to use this knowledge and experience in the medical and surgical robotics arena. “The MedTech industry was particularly interesting because it can have not only a positive economic impact but also a direct impact on the health of the society,” says Deneb Medical.
The Hunt for Success in the Industry
Deneb Medical says it is not easy, from a technological point of view, to identify in real-time different biological tissues in a surgical set up and to do it safely and with a high degree of certainty.
Furthermore, the project the company took represented a big challenge for the promoters because they didn’t have any previous professional experience in developing medical devices. This was also the project’s main hurdle and the co-founders plan to overcome it by hiring executives that come from the MedTech industry.
The company completely acknowledged this shortcoming from the very beginning and was keen on accepting feedback from surgeons and market players, who helped shape the product, its intended use and value proposition. That’s why Deneb Medical is the story of the evolution of an idea, rather than a project that came up suddenly.
Thus Deneb’s main learnings during the last four years have been to cope with uncertainty and be resilient enough to achieve the final goal, which always comes after a great amount of work.
Factors that Made the Company Grow to the Next Level
The most important factor has been the human factor: Deneb Medical has attracted the best talent from the very beginning, not only from a professional point of view but also from a personal point of view. Deneb’s team is strongly committed to the project and each team member gives his best to fulfill the project’s milestones. Further the project has attracted senior professionals with extensive professional experience in various industries that support Deneb Medical in making key decisions.
The second key factor has been the support of the Government to develop such an innovative surgical system. Without the help of the European Commission, the Spanish Ministry of Economics or the support of the Government of the Basque Country among many others, Deneb Medical would not have made its path till today. Indeed these kinds of projects need investors and financing entities that can work on a longer-term basis.
The third important factor has been the founders wish to really make this project move forward and achieve its milestones. There have been critical moments in the past four years when the founders have decided to further support and invest their efforts in the project
The Future Plans of the Firm
Deneb Medical expects to roll out to the market its first robotic system in 2023. To do so the company hopes to have a product by 2020 that will be performing successfully In Vivo clinical trials on human patients and will attain the FDA Approval by 2022. From an investment and funding point of view, the company hopes it will continue to be an attractive project for new investors while being backed up by reliable investors and partners that understand the dynamics of medtech investments and bring their previous expertise in the medtech arena. From a human resources point of view, Deneb hopes that the project will be able to continue attracting the best talent worldwide so that it can keep on its growth and expansion.
Certainly, Deneb is evolving and is providing the best solutions in the market. It is evident that in the future it will be the top player.
The Duo Dreamers
Aritz Lazkoz, Co-Founder: Aritz is highly qualified with his MSc in Mechanical Engineering (University of Navarre), MBA (IESE Business School), MA in Applied Economics (National Distance Education University). Aritz has experience in management of international technology projects within the railway industry. During his professional career in CAF, he led the project to develop a train for the German railway market (budget > 20M€, >50 engineers). Aritz led the project of the first catenary-free tram in Taiwan integrating all systems (civil works, energy, signaling etc.) and metro projects for the city of São Paulo. Previously he managed dealer networks in emerging markets. Not to mention, he also has international working experience in Germany.
Juan Arregui, Co-Founder: Juan also has procured degrees in MSc in Mechanical Engineering (University of Navarre), MBA (IE Business School), Master in Electrical Sector (Universidad Pontificia de Comillas). With his professional experience in the development of technological products for power electronics, he is certainly helping the company go to the next level. Juan has experience in the management of teams and in collaborating with research centers. In the past, he has participated in the creation of CAF Power & Automation (€70M, 250 people), a subsidiary of CAF. Furthermore, he developed part of his professional career in the field of strategy, M&A and analysis of investments in technological start-ups, in the Corporate Development department of CAF. He also has international work experience in Germany as well.