The funding is a major win for a standout medtech startup and U.S. Latinx startup community; allows the company to grow team, develop clinical trials
The medtech startup offers the only wearable device to monitor lung function through acoustic resonance
Respira Labs, a Latina-led medical technology company specializing in respiratory care, today announces it has closed $2.8 million to continue to develop and produce its chest wearable that uses acoustic resonance to assess lung function and identify changes in lung air volume, which is especially critical for COPD, COVID-19 and Asthma patients.
Respira Labs raised $1 million in pre-seed funding led by Zentynel Frontier Investments with participation by VentureWell, ImpactAssets and several angel investors from the United States and Latin America. The company was also awarded an additional $1.8 million in grants from Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes for Health (NIH) and other startup prizes.
“We’re a U.S.-based startup excited to be making strides in a highly competitive space and are grateful to the organizations who care deeply about our mission and technology,” said Dr. Maria Artunduaga, who was born in Colombia and is Respira Lab’s founder and CEO.
“We have the potential to help improve the lives of millions of people living with lung issues around the world,” Dr. Artunduaga continued. “Early detection is key and our technology will help people identify problems earlier to avoid dangerous and potentially life-threatening situations.”
Dr. Artunduaga was inspired to start Respira Labs when her grandmother who suffered from COPD had a sudden exacerbation of symptoms and died as a result.
Respira’s technology takes the concept of acoustics to the next level, using lung resonance analysis to assess respiratory health and provide a comprehensive overview of a patient’s condition. A wearable (known as Sylvee, after Dr. Artunduaga’s grandmother) can flag abnormalities, enable earlier treatment and empower patients to manage their own health at home to prevent hospitalization.
Respira’s announcement is especially significant as funding to Latinx startups has stalled in recent years with Latin American business owners receiving only 2.1% of the overall startup investments in 2021, even though they are “the fastest growing segment of U.S. small business” according to the SBA, today owning more than 14% of all small businesses in the U.S.
“For us, it is an honor to be able to invest in companies with the vision and leadership that Respira Labs has. Its Latin American background and subject-matter expertise are a perfect match for us,” said Cristian Hernández-Cuevas, serial entrepreneur and general partner of Zentynel. “We are convinced that no one else is trying to tackle the monitoring of lung function, from an acoustic point of view, with the sophistication and rigor with which Respira Lab is doing it. This opens the door to a huge market that will continue to grow in a post-COVID world.”
In addition to the funding, Respira has been growing and accelerating its product development. The company was selected to participate in the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2) accelerator program sponsored by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Respira now employs 20 talented and diverse team members.
Other Respira Labs recent milestones:
- Sylvee feasibility trials are underway in Florida and California.
- 30 patients have been recruited in less than a month for trials.
- The device is currently in prototype, with FDA clearance expected within the next 24 months.