Omnes Capital's investments: Pixium

Sector 
Medical devices
Entry Date 
12/2011
Business 
Venture Capital

Pixium

Up-and-coming leader in bionic vision and vision restoration systems (VRS)

Pixium Vision was founded in December 2011 by Bernard Gilly, Professor José-Alain Sahel, and several highly renowned scientists from prestigious academic and technology institutions. The company develops innovative vision restoration systems (VRS) that are active medical devices. They can be implanted to treat blindness caused by degeneration of the photo-receptor cells of the retina. VRS stimulate the retina to produce a bionic vision and aim to significantly improve the independence, mobility and quality of life of patients who have lost their sight. Called IRIS® (in clinical trials) and PRIMA (under development), these VRS harness the latest advances in microelectronics/nanoelectronics, optronics, neurobiology and software. With the help of these technologies, Pixium Vision ultimately aims to provide a therapeutic solution delivering bionic vision as close as possible to normal vision.

“Within ten years, we can become the world leader in the market.”
BERNARD
GILLY
Executive Chairman
of Pixium Vision
Pixium Vision

A long-term view

In June 2014, Omnes Capital supported the initial public offering made by Pixium Vision, a start-up specialising in vision restoration systems (VRSs). The IPO was highly successful, as one would expect for a company at the leading edge of research into visual impairment. A month later, Bernard Gilly, head of Pixium Vision, confirmed its success, with a total of €39.5 million ultimately raised.
BERNARD GILLY
Executive Chairman of Pixium Vision

Disruptive innovation

Alexia Perouse (Partner at Omnes Capital) and Bernard Gilly first discussed vision restoration systems in the early 2000s. "VRSs aim to enable blind people to perceive shapes and movements, a really tremendous project. But their design came up against two hurdles, systems miniaturisation and real-time image transmission", explains Bernard Gilly. 

 

Pixium overcame these hurdles in 2011 when it launched IRIS (short for Intelligent Retinal Implant System), consisting of a pair of glasses with an integrated mini-camera linked to a pocket computer and a retinal implant that stimulates the brain cells. 

 

"It met all our criteria for investment: disruptive technology, a seasoned management team and a promising medtech sector", says Alexia Perouse. So in 2012, Omnes Capital invested €5 million.

BERNARD
GILLY
Executive Chairman
of Pixium Vision
What sets Pixium apart from its competitors?
Our technology. We are pioneers in VRSs working as artificial retinas. IRIS, our first implant, has between 50 and 150 electrodes and can be implanted under general anaesthetic in two hours. PRIMA, the next generation, will have more than one thousand wireless electrodes and will be implanted under local anaesthetic in just 30 minutes. Both are being developed by an international network of research scientists from the Vision Institute, Université Pierre-et- Marie-Curie and the universities of Stanford and Jerusalem.
What do you expect from your partnership with Omnes Capital?
Omnes Capital has always been a partner that assesses our decisions, our strategy and our new hires, such as Pierre Kemula (former head of Investor Relations at Ipsen) who joined us as CFO last June. Alexia Perouse and her team know our project intimately, as they do the biotechnology and medical devices markets in general. We are united by strong mutual trust, which also stems from our long-standing relationship with Alexia, whom I have known since 2000.
What are your ambitions for the next few years?
The market is structuring itself. Within ten years, we can become a world leader with IRIS and PRIMA, but also with our R&D work on optical nerve pathologies, such as glaucoma. Will this growth be achieved alone or as part of a major group following a buyout? Only time will tell.

Timeline

• 2011: Bernard Gilly founds Pixium Vision with a group of scientists working at the Vision Institute and Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie
• 2012: The first funding round organised with Omnes Capital raises €23.5 million
• 2013: Clinical trials begin on IRIS
• 2014: The IPO raises €39.5 million
• 2015: Development of IRIS begins in the United-States
pixium-vision