HTC funds virtual reality startup Surgical Theater in $9M Series A

Cleveland startup Surgical Theater just received $9 million in a Series A, with funding from mobile device maker HTC – which is also contributing the technology of its virtual reality technology headset.

Cleveland startup Surgical Theater just closed out a $9 million Series A round for its software that helps surgeons pre-plan their tactics in the operating room using virtual reality.

The funding came from smartphone maker HTC Corp. – which is collaborating on the tool – and venture firm Shanghai Creation Investment Management Company. For instance, Surgical Theater is now incorporating HTC’s Vive headset into its virtual reality tool set to improve neurosurgery.

“It’s like Honey, I Shrunk the Kids — that’s exactly what we’re doing,” CEO Moty Avisar said in a July interview. “We’re shrinking the surgeon virtually, so he can walk into the brain and explore areas he could actually never be in otherwise.”

The Surgical Navigation Advance Platform, or SNAP, pulls together data from CT, MRI and functional MRI scans to create a personalized and navigable map of a problem area – for instance, the brain. It’s available for use inside and outside the operating room, and during surgery as well.

“Virtual reality will forever transform the way we experience the world around us, and HTC Vive’s unique 360 room-scale solution and tracking technology is enabling innovative applications of VR which will enrich every aspect of our lives,” said Cher Wang, CEO of HTC. “Our collaboration with Surgical Theater is an exciting opportunity to pioneer the medical use of VR, with a remarkable application in the highly specialized field of neurosurgery that enhances patient care could help save lives.”

The software is being tested at University of California, Los Angeles, New York University, Mayo Clinic, Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, and Cleveland Clinic, Avisar said. The SNAP program is cleared by the FDA for spine, ear-nose-throat and cardiac use, he said. It’s got the FDA stamp of approval for both preoperative and intraoperative use and is on the verge of receiving a CE mark.

Avisar said in July that Surgical Theater will soon a partnership with a large medical device manufacturer that’s incorporating Surgical Theater’s technology into its product offerings. Indeed, Avisar says that it’ll help install the navigation devices at more than 3,500 sites.