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ABK Biomedical Focused On Foreign Market

Halifax medical device company ABK Biomedical is raising about $1 million in equity financing to help get its product on the European market in about a year. While it’s secured about half the total from the First Angel Network, or FAN, it’s also working with the local investment group to engage with other angel networks in Canada and the U.S.

ABK is the developer of OccluRad — tiny bio-compatible glass beads used to treat uterine fibroids, or benign tumours, in a woman’s uterus. The product improves efficiency and safety when treating women for the affliction. The company hopes to have OccluRad on the market in Europe in the second quarter of 2015, and in the U.S. and Canada shortly after that.

ABK, which previously raised $1.25 million from a variety of sources, recently pitched to members of FAN and they came forward with about $500,000 in commitments. Then FAN arranged for chief science officer Daniel Boyd to pitch to the Wilmington Investor Network in North Carolina, a group FAN co-founder Ross Finlay met through his position as a board member on the Angel Capital Association in the U.S.

FAN is also arranging for ABK to pitch to angel groups in Saskatchewan and Alberta and has had discussions about putting the company before the Boston Harbor Angels and an angel group in Pittsburgh.

“We had an exceptional event” in Wilmington, Finlay said in an interview last week. “They welcomed the opportunity to invest in Canada with a Canadian angel group.”

FAN has co-invested previously with other angel groups, but this is the first time it has taken one of its portfolio companies on a roadshow to pitch to other angel groups. Finlay hopes to do it again, because it broadens the companies’ equity base and networks and helps to build relationships with other investment groups.

ABK was a great group to begin with because of the quality of its management team and the discipline of its plan to get the product to market, said Finlay. CEO Pat O’Connor is a seasoned veteran of the medical device industry and he is complemented by Dalhousie University scientists and co-founders Daniel Boyd and Bob Abraham. Brian Lowe serves as part-time COO of the company. (Lowe is also a co-founder of FAN but excused himself from the decision process in selecting ABK to pitch to FAN members.)

With the OccluRad product virtually developed, O’Connor said in an interview the company will use the money it’s raising to finalize a range of design verification and validation activities before regulatory assessments in early 2015. Full clinical trials will not be needed before the launch in Europe and in certain parts of the American market, which reduces the time needed to launch the product, said O’Connor. However, the company will have to collect clinical data once the product is on the market.

OccluRad addresses a huge market as about 40 per cent of women over 35 develop uterine fibroids. Doctors kill these tumours with tiny particles introduced through the arteries. But the particles currently on the market are invisible to X-ray, so the doctor has to pass a dye into the patient’s entire system to make sure the particles are attacking the tumours.

OccluRad particles are visible, meaning the dye is no longer needed. Not only does this reduce the cost, it also saves 20 minutes in the procedure, meaning doctors can treat about two more patients per day.