2022.12.20 Rhovica

Rhovica Neuroimaging wins the final stage of Venture Kick

Bern, Switzerland, 20.12.2022 Rhovica Neuroimaging is developing a new external ventricular drainage catheter (EVD). Called SoNav, it has integrated sensors allowing for the safe, fast, and cost-efficient catheter placement and monitoring of brain ventricles. Their product addresses the high risk of a common neurosurgical intervention. The startup was awarded CHF 150,000 as a winner of Venture Kick’s third stage.

Rhovica's Dr. med. Martin Hlavica and Dr. med. univ. Thomas Rhomberg

The rapid and safe placement of an external ventricular drain (EVD)—a catheter inserted in brain cavities called ventricles—is a lifesaving emergency procedure performed to drain fluid and reduce intracranial pressure (ICP); it is one of the most frequent neurosurgical interventions. Today, the trajectory through the brain for EVD insertion is often chosen using superficial anatomical landmarks. This leads to high misplacement rates posing the risk of devastating results due to time delay and injury of functionally important brain structures.

Rhovica Neuroimaging devised SoNav, an EVD with integrated sensors that not only allow accurate localization of the ventricles and safe EVD placement with visual guidance, but also enable continuous monitoring of the ventricles’ size and pressure. Aside from reducing the cost of placement and monitoring procedures, it greatly reduces the risk of complications.

Current EVD solutions do not provide any bedside placement navigation or real-time monitoring mechanisms. The global EVD market was estimated to be around USD 220 million in 2021 and is expected to grow to more than USD 400 million by 2030.

The startup will use the CHF 150,000 awarded by Venture Kick to expand its team and continue prototyping to proceed to pre-clinical studies, leading to first human use.

Rhovica Neuroimaging was co-founded by Dr. med. Martin Hlavica and Dr. med. univ. Thomas Rhomberg, both board-certified neurosurgeons. The team has been strengthened with the addition of Blair Fraser as CEO and Dr. Abed Hammoud as designated CTO, both with over 30 years of experience in bringing medical devices to market and in venture building.

"Since first receiving Venture Kick support in March 2021, Rhovica Neuroimaging has evolved significantly during the Venture Kick process. We are grateful to Venture Kick with its stepwise financial support and coaching resources, which has enabled the SoNav project to come to life," the co-founders said.

Rhovica Neuroimaging, from the left to the right: CEO Blair Fraser, the two Co-Founders, Dr. med. univ. Thomas Rhomberg and Dr. med. Martin Hlavica, and CTO Dr. Abed Hammoud