Indy firm nabs $15M to expand brain surgery technologies

February 24, 2016

Indianapolis-based NICO Corp. has raised $15 million in capital to expand its brain surgery technologies to new markets.

The new funding builds upon the $18 million NICO has raised from investors since its founding in 2008. About two-thirds of the recent infusion is from Cincinnati-based River Cities Capital Funds and The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. The firm develops technologies and systems for subcortical brain surgery, which involves operations below the outer layer of the brain.

The money will help NICO—which stands for Neurosurgical Intervention Company—advance clinical trials, commercialize new products and expand its staff beyond North America, among other things.

"We have a solid foundation of clinical and economic evidence, and that evidence continues to grow, giving us added momentum for controlled market expansion and deliberate steps toward setting a new standard of care in neurosurgery,” said CEO Jim Pearson in a statement.

The neurosurgery market is growing rapidly with particular demands for minimally invasive technologies and systems, according to research firm Future Market Insights. Minimally invasive neurosurgery avoids complication post-surgery, leads to faster recovery, minimal scarring and pain, and high accuracy, the firm said.

NICO’s trials will evaluate the effectiveness of its technology’s surgical intervention in some blood clots in the brain, the company said, versus a watch-and-wait approach.

Carter McNabb, managing director of River Cities Capital Funds, which previously invested in NICO, said in a statement that the company has a rare opportunity to “both create and define a standard of care in a space where none currently exists, and establish a medical-device franchise in one of the last untapped frontiers of the human body, the brain.”

NICO’s BrainPath approach—a system for visualizing and accessing lesions in the subcortical areas of the brain—will be “the foundation of a new standard of care,” McNabb said. “That reality, combined with the exceptional team at NICO, makes this one of our most exciting device investments."

NICO’s randomized, controlled trial is being led by the Emory Stroke Center of Emory University hospitals and the Marcus Stroke & Neuroscience Center of Grady Memorial Hospital. More than 50 major healthcare centers have applied to participate in the trial that will accommodate only 10-15 qualified healthcare centers.

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