Chinese Rehab Robot Maker Fourier Int. Carries Out its Series B Funding Round

Healthcare Author: Yusuf Tuna Jul 12, 2019 02:50 PM (GMT+8)

Fourier Intelligence, a medical exoskeleton company from Shanghai, has completed its Series B, raising further questions of the industry's potential and the company's real operational efficiency.

An exoskeleton by Fourier Intelligence. Image: Credit to Fourier Intelligence

Fourier Intelligence (傅利叶智能), rehabilitation robotics and exoskeleton company from Shanghai, has carried out its Series B at an undisclosed amount. The latest series led by Guozhong Venture Capital (国中创投), with the participation of the existing investors IDG and Volcanics Venture (火山石资本).

"The funds will be used for R&D and operational expansion purposes," CEO Alex Gu claimed. 

Robotic exoskeletons are used for healthcare, industrial and military purposes, and the industry is still at nascent stages. The market size for the industry was USD 85.7 million globally, and currently there are several companies trying to get a piece from the small cake, including Fourier Intelligence. However, the market capacity is expected to surge to around half a billion USD in 2023, globally. 

Currently, the industry is dominated by companies from the USA, due to their technical sophistication and a long history in developing robotics. 

The biggest player in the entire exoskeleton industry is a defence company from the USA, Raytheon Company (RTN), a publicly traded firm on New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) specializing in defence, civil government and cybersecurity solutions. There are natural competitors such as Raytheon Company for small startups like Fourier Intelligence. Another major play with USD 92 million market cap is Ekso Bionics (Nasdaq: EKSO) is a producer of medical and industrial exoskeletons. 

On the other hand, the supported robotics that is developed by Fourier Technology is made of several different hardware and software, in which China is slowly catching up. What's more, the country's demand for medical escalation is increasing due to its ageing population.

Giants are aware of the potential.

On Jan 30, 2019, Ekso Bionics has entered into an agreement with Zhejiang Youchuang VC and another partner to establish a joint venture designed to develop and serve the exoskeleton market in China and other Asian markets; in a move to create a global exoskeleton manufacturing center, announced the company.

Fourier Intelligence sees the therapist and doctor scarcity issue in China as one of the driving sources of their business. 

The rehab-robot maker claims that more than 500 hundred hospitals and research institutions have installed their product, however, the company does not mention its revenues or profitability, raising questions of the company's operational efficiency and compliance issues. 

Currently, medical exoskeletons are not affordable, especially in China. However, Fourier Intelligence believes economies of scale will ultimately drive the price down to the acceptable levels and the market will be available for the middle class.

"If the adoption of exoskeletons increases, the price will come down because of the economy of scale." said deputy CEO of Fourier Intelligence Zen Koh at an interview. "We believe the price will eventually drop to maybe $55,000 or $20,000, or even just a few thousand dollars."