NovaVision Sees Clearer with $6M

The latest German import that has piqued investors’ interest in the United States is not a sporty car or new brand of beer. Rather, it is a new technology that helps stroke patients and other victims of traumatic brain injuries restore impaired vision.

NovaVision, the Boca Raton, Fla.-based company behind the technology, recently closed a $6 million Series A round of funding.

The company, which uses a technology developed by Dr. Bernhard Sabel at the University of Magdeburg in Magdeburg, Germany, started looking for between $4 million and $6 million in funding in the spring and closed the round in late August.

Noro-Moseley Partners led the round with $4 million and was joined by Crossbow Ventures. Noro-Moseley Partner Rusty French and Crossbow Partner Ravi Ugale will both join NoraVision’s board as part of the funding. Dr. Andrew Firlik, a principal at Canaan Partners, also was granted a board seat, although Canaan did not invest in this round.

Canaan was interested in investing, too, but the deal with Noro-Moseley and Crossbow came together faster than the firm expected.

NovaVision originally raised a $2 million seed round in Germany in 2000. The Series A has a post-money valuation of slightly more than $12 million.

French says he was sure of his interest in the company after seeing Navrose Mehta, NovaVision’s president and CEO, speak about the company at Emory University in Noro-Moseley’s home city of Atlanta. The experts at Emory confirmed the viability of the technology for French, who sees the NovaVision investment as a natural addition to the firm’s portfolio.

“We’ve done some things in the

ophthalmic area and this is an extension of that,” says French, who claims that the company has no natural competitors. “There is a strong patent position around this. That was the most exciting part of the discovery of what could be done here.”

Noro-Moseley has invested in other vision-related health care companies. The firm contributed to SpectRx, which develops diabetes screening products that measure fluorescence in the lens of the eye. Noro-Moseley also invested in the Emory University affiliated Vision Correction Group, which provides vision correction surgery through stand alone clinics.

NovaVision plans to use the latest funding to launch its Vision Restoration Therapy (VRT) product in the United States and Europe. The company has about 20 employees currently and Mehta expects to see a significant increase in staff over the next year. He expects the funding to last the company between 18 and 24 months.

Both Mehta and French say that NovaVision will look to raise another round after having the company’s product accepted in top clinics and hospitals.

French expects that a year-and-a-half from now the company will raise another round to bring its products to rehabilitation clinics. Getting the word out about the product is the biggest challenge facing the company, according to Mehta.

“We need to make sure we launch the product effectively,” he says. “The challenge is informing the physicians of the science behind the company and, secondly, getting the product out and making patients aware of this therapy.”