Insulet Receives $11M Injection

Robert Campbell has Type I diabetes, and says his life has been immeasurably improved by the Animus-brand insulin pump wired from an electronic cartridge on his hip to an infusion set taped onto his upper left torso. But while pre-programmed amounts of insulin are injected into Campbell?s body throughout the day, he sits in a Beverly, Mass.-based office park working for a company that, if successful, could make the Animus pump and others of its kind obsolete.

“I don?t want to knock Animus or either of the other [insulin] pump makers because what they?ve done is so incredibly important for people with diabetes,” said Campbell, product manager for Insulet Corp. “But things can always be improved upon and that?s what I think we?re doing.”

More specifically, Insulet has proposed eliminating the tether that connects the insulin cartridge to the injection set, thus increasing a patient?s physical range of motion. The delivery system would operate via a Palm-like wireless device and a disposable injection system that would hold approximately three days worth of insulin.

While Insulet?s product is not yet even in Phase I clinical trials, expectations are that it will be user-friendly and cost competitive with existing pump technology. The Animus pump, for example, costs approximately $5,000 for the base technology (which comes with a four-year warranty) and an additional $20 every few days for new infusion sets and insulin supplies.

Tom Wood, chief executive with Insulet, said that his firm?s innovations could have the same quality-of-life impact on diabetics as disposable contact lenses had on those with poor vision.

“Around 12% of people with Type I diabetes are currently using pumps,” he said. “We think we could bump that number up to around 38%.”

Venture capitalists seem to agree. Earlier this month, a syndicate led by Versant Venture Partners provided the start-up with $11 million in a second round of venture capital financing. Versant and Schroder Ventures Life Sciences each committed $3.75 million to the deal, while existing backer Prism Venture Partners invested an additional $3.5 million.

John Brooks and Dwayne Mason, co-founders and general partners with Prism, were actually the first ones to come up with the disposable pump idea, upon which they helped build Insulet via a $1 million Series A round. As part of the most recent funding, however, Brooks has left the Insulet board while Mason has remained. Other investor representatives on the Insulet board include Ross Jaffe, managing director of Versant, and Charles Warden, partner with Schroder.

The company has not yet launched a new round of funding, although it does plan to begin marketing a $7 million Series C deal within the next 12 months.

Contact Dan