Neuravi

Eamon Brady smiles as he recalls the early days of funding Neuravi, the creator of a stroke therapy device called EmboTrap.

 

“Every cheque you get depends on the cheque before it and it was the Western Development Commission who wrote the first cheque. Without that first cheque, there would be no Neuravi.”

That was at the end of 2009 when Eamon and his team were researching the development of a new method to treat acute strokes, as a huge financial crisis erupted worldwide. “It was not a pretty climate to be seeking funding,” he recalls.

Neuravi was founded by Eamon, David Vale and John O’Shaughnessy all former colleagues at another Galway-based medical device business, MedNova, that was acquired in 2005 by Abbott Laboratories.

Every cheque you get depends on the cheque before it and it was the Western Development Commission who wrote the first cheque. Without that first cheque, there would be no Neuravi.”

 

In 2008, while researching another brain product, Eamon became intrigued by the treatment for acute strokes – caused when blood clots become lodged in blood vessels of the brain – and he realised that there was no good treatment option for these patients that was effective across the global population.

“When we started Neuravi, there had been 1,000 different pharma trials in acute stroke with just two demonstrating any success. Even then, the drugs had limited use and were being used in less than five per cent of patients.”

In the middle of 2009 Eamon and his colleagues began a gruelling round of pitching for private investors – which took him to America and other markets.

It was a challenging environment, says Eamon. “I was in a home office working day and night. We were absolutely boot-strapped for the first 20 months.”

“The WDC invested €400k of a €1.4million round at the end of 2009 and followed in every single funding round thereafter. That first round enabled us to keep our R&D going for three years. It gave us time to work on an incredibly good solution.”

Eamon acknowledges that the investment was not without risk. “The reality is that early-stage investors are often the most likely investors to get rolled over because it is high-risk.
“When things go wrong, the next investors can drive down the price. Having investors like the WDC Investment Fund that do take those early risks is a fundamental part of a functioning tech eco-system.”

The deepening of the financial crises in 2010 had blunted investment prospects, so he changed tack. “I realised that pitching in the US was a waste of time and that I was better off in Europe. I learned that when money is scarce, the remaining investors have their choice of deals and they are more likely to pick deals closer to home.

In 2012, Fountain Healthcare Partners and Delta Partners (both based in Dublin) invested in a series A funding round for Neuravi and in 2015 Life Science Partners (Amsterdam) invested in a high-profile series B funding round.

Two years later, in 2017, Neuravi, with Eamon as CEO and David as CTO, was sold to a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. The WDC Investment Fund, along with other investors, recouped its entire investment – and more.

Eamon recalls: “I always felt Johnson & Johnson was the right home for Neuravi – they had the muscle to take our product global in the market.”

Today Neuravi employs more than 100 people in Galway and Eamon is getting stuck into a new challenge with WhiteSwell.

The company is developing a new therapy system for treating acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF).

The WDC Investment Fund was the leading Irish institutional investor in a $30m series B funding round in 2018 as part of a broad syndicate that included investors from China, South America, and the US.

As for others who want to pursue big dreams, Eamon has this advice: “Persistence is a key attribute in the founder team. You must persist through thick and thin. There will be thin but it will be worth it!”