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Startups 2018

Emerging Startup


Alexej Domnich, Dr Jörg Fregien, Fabian Tutsch

Innovation & Business Idea

Intravascular stents are a common treatment for peripheral and coronary artery disease, with ~540,000 procedures in the lower limbs and 1.5 million procedures in the coronaries performed every year in Western Europe. These stents share one huge problem: restenosis, a gradual re-clogging of the stent over time, occurring in about 5-25 % of all stents within the first 5 years. The restenosis related mortality rate after 10 years for large vessel arterial disease is up to 75 %. Restenosis is a huge burden on healthcare systems due to time consuming diagnostic measures and invasive interventions, with follow-up treatments costing €121 M/yr in Western Europe. At least 80 % (€100 M) of these costs would be avoidable with VesselSens’-diagnostic system - the first implantable sensor system that renders traditional check-ups obsolete by allowing patients to accurately diagnose vessel clogging in real-time. Unlike conventional stents which rely on expensive and highly inaccurate clinical check-ups our patented in-stent sensor technology provides wireless, highly accurate diagnosis thus reducing unnecessary examinations by reducing the amount of following check-ups. Our method to diagnose stenosis consists of determining and analysing the pulse wave velocity (PWV) of the arteries. Utilizing two passive sensors, VesselSens monitors pulse wave velocity (PWV) in order to derive the degree of vessel clogging. In order to acquire the PWV, a wireless extra-corporal read out unit is applied to the surface of the body, which allows the patient to take a measurement by himself and in real-time.

Customers / Target Market

The target market is the global intravascular stents market (peripheral and coronary). Customers are hospitals.


The global stent market is one of the largest in med-tech industry with $6.6 B global sales in 2016 and CAGR of about 4 %. The stent market is highly consolidated. The field is led by global med-tech companies such as Boston Scientific, Abbott and Medtronic that hold about 40 % of the market. The remaining 60 % are held by roughly 40 smaller stent companies. There are no other companies that we know of are focusing on PWV and the passive implantable sensors.

Intellectual Property Status

Basic patent issued (08.2017). 4 further technology patents applied for, not published yet.

Development Status & Future Steps

We are currently in the last functional prototype development phase (implantable sensors, read out unit, algorithm, web platform, data handling) leading up to product development and (pre-)clinical trials. We will become cash flow positive by 2022.

Exit Strategy

Trade sale to a major global stent company is planned in 2022/2023. Since there were no real innovations in the global stent market over the last years, chances are high that an attractive trade sale deal with a major global stent company can be made. Potential buyers are: Medtronic, Boston Scientific, Abbott Vascular, Biotronik, Terumo, and Cook Medical. Sale to a strategic acquirer within 1 year before setting up distribution and sales force ~ €500 M anticipated exit.

Team Description

Alexej Domnich: mechatronics at the university of Stuttgart. Focus on biomedical engineering. 7.5 years’ work experience at Fraunhofer IPA, Stuttgart. 2.5 years’ building up and leading a scientific project group at Life Science Inkubator in Bonn. Project manager, inventor, CEO. Fabian Tutsch: electrical engineering at the university of Stuttgart. Over 6 years’ R&D work experience at Narda GmbH. Focus on hardware development and inductive transmissions. Dep. Project manager, read-out device, inventor, CTO.

Financing Need

Series A: €4.8 M for the next 2.5 years product development and preclinical study. Series B: 15.1 M for clinical study and CE approval. Expected funding of in total €19.9 M until anticipated exit in 5 years.

Searching for

Commercial Partner, Funding, Collaboration