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Exclusive: Surgery AI Startup Apella Raises $21M In Series A

Illustration of swiping smartphone for diagnosis-nursing shortage

Surgery AI startup Apella Technology has raised $21 million in its Series A, company leaders told Crunchbase News. 

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San Francisco-based Apella collects data from operating rooms in hospitals via sensors and puts artificial intelligence to the task of analyzing that information and spits it out in a way that that the startup says can be interpreted by hospitals to improve operations, surgical quality, training and even real-time decision-making. 

To start, Apella is focusing on all the things that happen between surgeries, including in the setup and takedown processes, David Schummers, CEO and co-founder of Apella, told Crunchbase News. 

“Obviously, there are a number of clinical inefficiencies and delays that also happen during surgery that are really valuable to capture and characterize, but the hospital administrators and the surgeons both really care about the efficiency of what happens between surgeries,” he said. 

The round, which adds to a $3 million seed round that closed in April of 2020, was led by Casdin Capital, with participation from Vensana Capital, PFM Health, Twine Ventures, Upside Partnership and Operator Partners, plus other unnamed but “notable individual investors.” 

“Apella is creating the operating system for the operating room,” Justin Klein, managing partner at Vensana Capital said in a statement. “The company’s technology can create a true system of record by capturing data that is unbiased, reliable, and increases in value over time.” 

Founded in 2019, Apella has deployed its systems to “a handful” of hospitals across the United States to help the company gather information and refine its technology. Now, it’s in talks with what Schummers calls “luminary hospitals” to put its technology to work. He expects the technology to be deployed in five to 10 hospitals in the first half of next year.  

The new injection of funding will help the company get its product into more hospitals and continue developing its platform, but the bulk will be spent on growing the team. Today Apella has around 15 employees, and Schummers expects that in the next six months, that number will double or triple—a tall order in a tight labor market, he acknowledged. 

What makes Apella’s technology stand out in the medical field, Schummers said, is that it’s meant to improve processes for every kind of surgery, rather than specializing in one type of care over another. 

“We are not using AI on one kind of imaging modality, like an endoscope or an X-ray,” he said. “We’re using it more to capture the processes that occur every day in every operating room because we think if you start there, you can scale relatively quickly and really have a much broader impact.” 

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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