ReSuture, a medical technology company based in Surprise, has been selected for the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award. ReSuture will receive $256,000 in funding for research and development to improve its unique system used for surgical training.
The SBIR award program looks to support innovative proposals that have the potential to make significant progress in impacting commerce and society. The award is competitive — only 15% of applicants receive the grant.
ReSuture is referred to as a “medical simulation startup,” as its product simulates the vascular system to help train future doctors to perform surgeries before stepping into the operating room.
According to co-founder Hannah Eherenfeldt, current methods of surgical training tend to be outdated and a lot of the education occurs on-the-job or in cadaver or live pigs labs. There are some simulated models, she said, but they are simple and unrealistic. ReSuture claims to have the most realistic platform for open vascular surgery.
The company has two models right now — the carotid endarterectomy, which is a surgery that removes plaque from the carotid artery, and anastomosis, a surgery to artificially connect two vessels, arteries or parts of the intestine. The abdominal aorta aneurysm repair model will be available before April 2021 and the company has plans to further expand and simulate several medical procedures. This new grant will both help fund that expansion and increase the capabilities of the system to measure surgical skill and standardize surgical education and evaluation.
ReSuture was founded in April 2019 by Benjamin Knapp and Eherenfeldt. They met during their undergrad as engineering students at Tulane University in New Orleans. While working as biomedical engineers at the university’s medical center, they developed new models for surgical training. They entered their vasculature model in a technology competition and ended up winning a cash award for first place. They got such positive feedback on their prototypes that they decided to use the money to start a business. They’ve received several awards since then, including the SBIR award.
Originally, Knapp and Eherenfeldt wanted to keep their business in Louisiana, but ended up moving to Arizona because the tech ecosystem seemed to be growing and they saw lots of opportunity for startups. They’re now based out of Surprise.
The whole ReSuture system starts at $5,000 and the simulated procedures run as much as $300, depending on the complexity of the operation. The product is currently being used to train surgical residents at Tulane and ReSuture recently sent models to the European Society of Vascular Surgery. Though Covid slowed down its progress, ReSuture is starting to see things pick up again and has plans to ramp up during 2021.