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  • Matthew Field

Medtronic acquires UK Digital Health company Digital Surgery for over $300M

A British start-up developing virtual reality and artificial intelligence technology for doctors has been snapped up by a US medical devices giant.

Digital Surgery, which was known for its surgical training apps and kitting out doctors with VR headsets, has been acquired by New York-listed Medtronic in a deal that represents a substantial exit for Britain's burgeoning medical technology start-up scene.

Medtronic and Digital Surgery declined to comment on the value of the deal, but sources said it was in excess of $300m (£229m).

Founded in 2013 by former surgeons Dr Jean Nehme and Dr Andre Chow, Digital Surgery first made waves developing an app for helping train surgeons with a database of common procedures.

It has also developed virtual reality software to train doctors as well as artificial intelligence tools for surgeons in the operating theatre.

As well as attracting interest from the US medical giant, The Telegraph understands that SoftBank, the Japanese investing giant that has backed dozens of tech start-ups through its Vision Fund, came close to an investment in Digital Surgery. No deal was agreed.

SoftBank, which has become notorious for its quick-fire investing in start-ups across the world, has recently pulled back from several deals after submitting term sheets. It came close to investing $150m in US healthcare start-up Honor, and also pulled out of a deal with software company Seismic.

SoftBank has reined in its investing style after several big bets from its first Vision Fund, including WeWork, turned sour.

Medtronic, a US-listed medical technology giant that employs over 86,000 people, is set to fold Digital Surgery into its existing portfolio of robotic surgery technologies.

Dr Nehme said: “We have always believed in computational power and data as two central drivers of consistency and quality in surgery. Computational power has impacted our lives in so many ways, and within surgery it is almost absent. By joining forces with Medtronic, we will finally apply computing and AI to surgery on a meaningful scale with a goal of helping more patients in more places benefit from consistently high-quality surgical care.”

In 2017, The Telegraph revealed it had secured £15m from 8VC, a West Coast fund whose partners had previously been an early backer of Oculus Rift. Other investors included London's Balderton Capital.

The start-up was previously recognised in the Telegraph's Tech4Good awards.

According to the start-up's last Companies House statement, between them Dr Nehme and Dr Chow owned around 20pc of shares in Digital Surgery, with those shares now worth millions of pounds.

SoftBank declined to comment.

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