In December, Insightec announced a $150 million Series E funding round led by Koch Disruptive Technologies (KDT), a new subsidiary of Koch Industries focused on finding and funding innovative and emerging companies. It is the first investment for KDT since the business group, led by KDT President Chase Koch, commenced operations in November.
The Foundation recently spoke with Chase Koch, KDT Managing Director Brett Chugg, Insightec CEO and Chairman of the Board Maurice R. Ferré, MD, and Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD, about the unprecedented investment and what it means for the future of focused ultrasound.
How did you learn about Insightec and focused ultrasound technology?
Brett Chugg: Disruptive technology opportunities don’t just appear out of thin air. They emerge through trusted networks, often in unpredictable ways. We had not studied neuro medical devices or focused ultrasound technology and reached a conclusion, “let’s go invest in an MR-guided, focused ultrasound medical device company.” Rather, the opportunity reached us through a trusted relationship in the marketplace.
What appealed to you about the company and the field?
Brett Chugg: We were intrigued by the disruptiveness of their product. Insightec has a lot going for it – demonstrated technology, commercialized products, proven entrepreneurs, and positive customer feedback. Its solutions disrupt current market alternatives and revolutionize the standard of care. As you know, their Exablate Neuro device focuses ultrasound energy on a targeted area in the brain to immediately treat a genetic, neurological disorder called essential tremor. It does this without making an incision in the skull, which is a life-changing improvement to the current method. What’s more, the treatment costs three to four times less.
Our investment also enables Insightec to advance its technology in other life-changing applications such as Parkinson’s disease and prostate cancer. Clinical research with the company’s technology has already successfully opened the blood-brain barrier, which holds the potential for targeted drug delivery to treat Alzheimer’s disease, brain tumors, and many other neurological diseases and disorders that currently have poor alternatives.
How does this investment tie in to the mission of Koch Disruptive Technologies and Koch Industries?
Chase Koch: At KDT, we seek innovations like Insightec’s – where the technology significantly changes both the cost structure and value to the customer. People’s lives are dramatically changed for the better, which aligns with Koch’s vision – “helping people improve their lives by providing products and services they value more highly than their alternatives, and to do so while consuming fewer resources.” So this investment is consistent with our culture, values and mission, and it spotlights a novel aspect of Koch Industries.
The Koch brand doesn’t have a lot of investments in the medical field. How else will you add value to Insightec?
Chase Koch: While it may not seem obvious how we can add value beyond capital to companies well outside of our core businesses like Insightec, our proven capabilities can deliver a vital boost to companies that have reached a high-growth stage in their lifecycle. Applying our Market-Based Management® Framework can really benefit growth-stage companies. For example, we are helping Insightec to expand its commercial, manufacturing, and public-sector capabilities.
How will this investment influence Insightec’s operations?
Maurice R. Ferré, MD: We are committed to driving global adoption of our existing focused ultrasound treatments while leading ground-breaking research to apply our proprietary technology in novel ways. This substantial investment elevates Insightec into a new strategic position within the healthcare industry. We plan to ultimately leverage our incisionless solutions to positively transform the lives of millions of patients.
What is the state of the focused ultrasound field today and how has it been impacted since KDT’s investment was announced?
Neal Kassell, MD: Focused ultrasound is beginning to transition from research to commercial activity and is at the inflection point of the adoption curve. In order to become established as a mainstream standard of care – impacting millions of patients around the world with serious medical disorders – investment of additional hundreds of millions of dollars in the manufacturers of the technology is required. There are currently 60 manufacturers involved in the field, many who are seeking financing.
A sizable investment like KDT’s – by an organization known for its long view and for successfully growing businesses that improve lives – has provided a validation, encouraging other organizations to invest in the field. The Foundation’s launch of our new FUS Partners program last month – to assist focused ultrasound community members with FUS-related financing, partnerships, technology transfer and/or academic research opportunities – also speaks to the accelerated activity level in the field and immense changes expected to come as we all work diligently to save time and save lives with this disruptive technology.
About Koch Industries
Based in Wichita, Kansas, Koch Industries, Inc. is one of the largest private companies in America with estimated annual revenues as high as $100 billion, according to Forbes. It owns a diverse group of companies involved in refining, chemicals, and biofuels; forest and consumer products; fertilizers; polymers and fibers; process and pollution control systems; electronics, software and data analytics; minerals; glass; automotive components; ranching; commodity trading; and investments. Since 2003, Koch companies have invested nearly $100 billion in acquisitions and other capital expenditures. With a presence in 50 countries, Koch companies employ nearly 120,000 people worldwide, with about 65,000 of those in the United States. From January 2009 to present, Koch companies have earned more than 1,300 awards for safety, environmental excellence, community stewardship, innovation, and customer service. For more news and stories, visit www.KOCHind.com.
About Koch Disruptive Technologies
Founded in November 2017 upon the spirit of transformation, Koch Disruptive Technologies originates and invests in promising entrepreneurs and technologies across industries to improve Koch’s existing businesses and create new opportunities. Learn more: http://news.kochind.com/news/2017/koch-disruptive-technologies-ready-to-transform.