Advances in minimally invasive surgeries save lives every day. From placing stents and catheters to balloons that allow surgeons to fix arteries from the inside out, innovative health solutions are doing what was once thought to be impossible. But even with this amazing technology comes a downside: exposure to radiation. So how can health care professionals and their patients avoid that exposure? Cleveland Clinic spinout Centerline Biomedical believes they’ve found a way.
“These minimally invasive surgeries are navigated using an X-ray system,” said CTO and founder Vikash Goel. “X-rays are amazing — they allow us to see inside the body. But over time, the radiation they require can cause diseases like cancer or cataracts or even plaque to develop in arteries, which can develop into a stroke. We learned that that radiation is actually a hazard to the doctors and other people providing care as well, so we developed a technology that’s basically a 3D mini GPS that allows doctors to navigate through a patient’s body without the constant use of radiation.”
That technology comes with “drastically reduced” radiation and better outcomes for patients and staff, part of Centerline’s “multi-pronged approach to health care.” When we last checked in on the company in 2018, they were near the beginning of their journey. But now, even through the pandemic, the company has built a wave of momentum that’s powering their growth.
“We achieved FDA clearance of our initial product in 2019, and just as we were getting ready to transform into a commercial operation with warehousing and manufacturing, the pandemic hit,” Goel said. “When you’re facing a threat like that, you can either slow things down and wait or take the mindset that makes startups successful, which is doubling down and getting aggressive. That’s what we did. We took advantage of the lockdowns because our target physicians were suddenly at home with a lot more time on their hands. We built ways to remotely demonstrate our technology and did the first surgery with our product at the Cleveland Clinic in 2020.”
Now, the company has 100 surgeries under their belt and a presence in health centers all around the country. In June, they announced a $33 million Series B funding round that will help take them to the next level. That funding came from a number of sources, and was led by the Cleveland Clinic with participation from GE Healthcare, RIK Enterprises, JobsOhio, Jumpstart Ventures and G2 Group Ventures.
“This represents a huge amount of support from the investor community for the potential of what we’ve built,” Goel said. “Some of this funding comes from entities affiliated with Ohio State, which reflects our commitment to building this out in Ohio and increasing the number of high-quality jobs in Ohio. We want to do this work here and grow here. I think even in 2018 we were already an example of an Ohio success story, but that’s becoming even stronger as time goes by.”
At their Cleveland home, Centerline is in the perfect position to maintain their momentum and keep growing. Goel credits The MidTown Health Tech Corridor and other projects for invigorating the startup and technology scene in Cleveland, and the company’s access to world-class health care facilities and a wealth of Ohio talent makes for a perfect scenario.
“I don’t know that there’s anywhere other than the Cleveland Clinic where we could have developed this,” he said. “There’s a real energy around the startup community and health tech community here in Cleveland. We’re deeply immersed with like-minded companies, and innovation begets innovation. Having that around us is really valuable, and it’s something our employees appreciate once they start working with us.”
With additional devices and new technology coming in the future, Centerline has their sights set high. And for Goel and his team, the aim isn’t just to run a successful business, it’s to make a permanent impact.
“Our vision is to make this technology the standard,” he said. “When we look at the long-term, if you can improve the way these surgeries are done, you can also improve access to those surgeries by making them more broadly available across the world. We envision a world where everyone has access to the safest and best form of care and the people providing that care don’t have to make the sacrifices they have to make today. It sounds very grandiose, but we really do hope to make a lasting transformation.”