Sunrise, a health tech company founded in 2015 in Belgium, has just closed a €3.25 million fundraising round. Led by Kurma Partners, this round of financing, in which the Vives-IUF fund linked to UCLouvain and Namur Invest also participated, has the objective of launching and internationally marketing the company’s first diagnostic product for sleep apnea. In addition to this €3.25 million round of funding, there is also €3.25 million in non-dilutive funding from the European Innovation Council, launched in 2021 by the European Commission to transform scientific ideas into promising innovations, and the Walloon Region.
Sleep apnea is both one of the most significant and one of the most under-diagnosed conditions in the world. It affects nearly 1 billion people worldwide1. This public health problem affects 49% of men and 23% of women over the age of 402. Yet, in 80%3 of cases, it remains undiagnosed even though it is linked to serious diseases such as hypertension, atrial fibrillation, strokes, diabetes and depression. At the request of the American Association of Sleep Medicine, a study4 estimated the cost to society of an undiagnosed patient at an average of $6,366/year, compared to $2,105 if he or she is diagnosed.
A new quick and easy way to diagnose sleep apnea.
To meet these needs, Sunrise is developing a new solution to analyze sleep using a 3-gram sensor, coupled with Artificial Intelligence. “We have developed the measurement of a new biosignal: we analyze mandibular movements during sleep. The sensor communicates with a mobile application. The data collected is processed thanks to artificial intelligence and can be transmitted to the doctor the next morning. This saves time and makes diagnosis easier” explains Laurent Martinot, co-founder and CEO of Sunrise. CE Marked as a certified medical device, this sensor is less intrusive and restrictive than a sleep test performed in a hospital with polysomnography. “Many experts tell us that about 35% of patients don’t go for it” adds Laurent Martinot.
Scientific and technological recognition in the USA
The device clinical validation was published in JAMA – Journal of the American Medical Association in 2020, with worldwide experts presenting the sensor’s excellent performance in terms of sensitivity and specificity. At the beginning of 2021, Sunrise was awarded a prize in the “health and well-being” category at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2021 in Las Vegas.
In the United States, the solution is under revision by the FDA, while in France, the Haute Autorité de la Santé (French Health Authority) is studying the use of the Sunrise technology for faster diagnosis in 14 leading sleep centers. The funds raised will be used to launch and market the device in these countries.
- Benjafield AV, Ayas NT, Eastwood PR, Heinzer R, Ip MS, Morrell MJ, Nunez CM, Patel SR, Penzel T, Pépin JL, Peppard PE, Sinha S, Tufik S, Valentine K, Malhotra A (2019) Estimation of the global prevalence and burden of obstructive sleep apnoea: a literature-based analysis. Lancet Respir Med 7:687-698. – https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lanres/PIIS2213-2600(19)30198-5.pdf
- Heinzer R, Vat S, Marques-Vidal P, Marti-Soler H, Andries D, Tobback N, Mooser V, Preisig M, Malhotra A, Waeber G, Vollenweider P, Tafti M, Haba-Rubio J (2015) Prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing in the general population: the HypnoLaus study – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25682233/
- Benjafield AV, Ayas NT, Eastwood PR, Heinzer R, Ip MS, Morrell MJ, Nunez CM, Patel SR, Penzel T, Pépin JL, Peppard PE, Sinha S, Tufik S, Valentine K, Malhotra A (2019) Estimation of the global prevalence and burden of obstructive sleep apnoea: a literature-based analysis. Lancet Respir Med 7:687-698. https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lanres/PIIS2213-2600(19)30198-5.pdf
- Frost & Sullivan, Hidden Health Crisis Costing America Billions (2016) – page 4: https://aasm.org/resources/pdf/sleep-apnea-economic-crisis.pdf