The American medtech giant Abb Vie is joining forces with Walloon start-up iSTAR Medical, investing $60 million to continue their trials and begin marketing their ocular implants.
iSTAR Medical develops innovative ophthalmic implants for treating glaucoma, an illness that causes permanent blindness and which affects 100 million people around the world.
The special feature of their technology prevents the implants from being rejected by the body; instead, they are ‘adopted’ by the surrounding cells.
Initially, iSTAR Medical was a subsidiary of a parent company in the United States and its technology was originally developed at the University of Washington in Seattle. However, it flourished in Wallonia.
The company set up in Wavre because of how attractive the region is for companies in this sector and the potential to obtain significant aid during the process of developing a technology. iSTAR Medical has become Belgian-owned following the influx of capital from local investors.
It subsequently received several rounds of funding from major Belgian, French, Dutch and German investors in this sector.
iSTAR is certified in Europe and has authorisation from the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) to market in the United States. The latter is critical, as the American market is one of the most important for the treatment of glaucoma.
In return for this collaboration with iSTAR Medical, Abb Vie will have the exclusive right to eventually buy out the Walloon company for around $475 million, depending on the fulfilment of certain objectives.
This is wonderful recognition for the quality of the technology that iSTAR Medical has developed and the work that the company has completed to date.