Imagine for a moment that your spouse, parent or child has been diagnosed with a life-changing condition. They need constant support from a ventilator to breathe.
Traditionally, that means they would need to be attached to a bulky machine, possibly stuck in a hospital bed. And if they were able to return home with a portable ventilator, they would need constant care and assistance.
That was Doug DeVries‘ experience when his father was diagnosed with ALS eight years ago. But DeVries has something not everyone in that situation would: a long career developing ventilation technology. So he set out on a mission to make a better portable ventilator system that would be easier for caregivers to use.
DeVries founded Ventec Life Systems four years ago to make the tech he had been working on a reality. His system, called VOCSN, was just approved by the FDA and now the startup has raised a $7 million round to bring it to market, bringing their total funding to date to $28 million.
A Ventec spokesperson said all the company’s funds so far have been raised from family and friends, many with backgrounds in respiratory care.
“I’ve seen firsthand how improved ventilator technology can enhance the quality of life for patients and caregivers. Our team didn’t want to create just another ventilator, we spent the past five years focused on building a truly integrated solution,” DeVries said in a news release.
The VOCSN system combines ventilation, oxygen, cough, suction and nebulization (medication delivery) services in one device, and allows a user to switch between services using the exact same hardware. That means a patient using a ventilator doesn’t have to switch to a different machine to clear their lungs of fluid or take breathable medication.
Ventec says the system’s combined technologies make it easier to use than alternatives. It also reduces the risk of complications, like infection, that arise from constantly switching devices.
A spokesperson for the startup said the goal of the tech is not just to improve patients’ quality of life but also to help caregivers, like a child or spouse, spend more time with the patient instead of constantly attending to a ventilator.
Ventec will now work with its partners to start a slow roll-out of the device, with the first systems shipping in the U.S. in June.
The startup is based in Bothell, Wash., where it carries out all stages of design and manufacturing. It currently has 35 employees.