Ascend Capital Partners (Ascend) announced four successful investments this year into Piur imaging, Nanoflex Robotics, MXD and DriveU.auto, part of an initiative to invest up to EUR 60 million over the next few years into mobility and medtech startups across Europe and Asia.
Founded by Monita Mo, founding partner and a serial entrepreneur, Ascend Capital Partners takes a distinctive approach as a lead investor in startups, actively advising and guiding investments at the board level and operationally. Since 2002, Ascend has generated hundreds of millions of USD in returns from successful investments across Asia and Europe.
Ascend’s unique role as a financial investor with a strategic mindset has proved successful in previous investments, most recently in its latest exit in 2022 with the sale of Grundium Oy.
What are the four new investments made by Ascend?
Following the successful exit of Grundium Oy and the strong performance of the wider portfolio, Ascend is launching its second wave of investments into industry-changing tech companies. So far, the firm has closed four deals this year, and has its sights set on further investments into medtech and mobility sectors. New investments so far include:
Piur imaging is an Austria-based company that has a hardware/software solution that turns any standard ultrasound system into a tomographic imaging device, bridging the gap between 2D ultrasound and standard 3D imaging modalities. The technology enables tomographic 3D ultrasound imaging for a wide range of clinical applications.
The company’s main focus is currently on thyroid nodule diagnosis, but the technology can be used for all vascular diseases including nerve imaging. The Series A funding deal first closed in March with Ascend Capital Partners as the lead investor investing a total of EUR 2.13 million. The money is used to accomplish FDA and CE certifications and to ramp up sales.
“We are delighted to have Ascend on board as the lead investor in our Series A round. We see Ascend as a proactive investor that is able to help us to improve our internal operations and provide us valuable business connections,” said Frederik Bender, CEO of Piur imaging.
“Within the first few months of investment, Ascend has proven their ability by bringing on new investment partners and opening up a business connection to the Chinese market. We are grateful for Ascend’s business expertise and look forward to growing with them.”
Nanoflex is developing a robotic system that allows the precise movement of specially made catheters using electromagnetic controls. The tech, which has been developed for decades out of the ETH in Zurich, enables surgeons to quickly and accurately navigate catheters with extreme precision throughout the vascular system. Nanoflex’s first market entry into the stroke space proves its ability to tackle the most complex vessel systems in the brain.
Ascend led Nanoflex’s Series A round with EUR 5 million (CHF 5 million). The money is used to grow the team at a faster rate and move along their clinical regulatory pathway.
MXD is a Shanghai-based startup that focuses on automotive chassis domain control. The company offers intelligent chassis domain control computing platform solutions based on artificial intelligence, novel fusion algorithms, digital twins, and machine learning.
MXD can provide many solutions, from system-on-a-chip (SoC) to a full range of wired chassis core component systems in order to meet the different needs of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) clients. Ascend invested $5m in seed funding. The money is used to establish offices and manufacturing space, and ramp up commercialization efforts.
DriveU.auto has developed a software-based tech that enables consistent low latency for 4k video, audio and other streams crucial for a wide range of autonomous and teleoperated vehicles. DriveU’s tried and tested tech was originally spun out from LiveU, a world leader in the broadcast communication technology space, which was acquired by Carlyle in 2021.
Ascend is proud to have acted as lead investor in DriveU’s funding round with participation from existing shareholders. Proceeds will be used towards expanding recurring revenue projects with existing customers, and to further penetrate new industry verticals.
What does this mean for Ascend?
At this stage, Ascend Capital Partners is looking to invest in up to 10 startups in the mobility and medtech sectors, and is particularly interested in companies that have growth potential in Asia. While Ascend Capital Partners usually takes on the lead investor role, they are open to co-investments and syndicate partners that align with Ascend’s strategic thinking.
“I believe that the healthcare and mobility sectors have the ability to change how we live. Healthcare guides how humans treat life-threatening diseases and provides preventative measures so that we can live longer and healthier lives. Mobility helps us live fulfilling lives by enabling us to travel to places that enrich our life experiences,” said Jerry Hong, CEO, Ascend.
“We also have our internal environmental, social, and governance goals that we adhere to when assessing potential investments. Both of these sectors have direct and indirect impact on our livelihood, and I am proud that my team and I have worked hard to move these industries forward. I want to leverage our team’s skills to help others live better lives.”
Ascend has been committed to Europe since 2012 when they made their investment into a Luxembourg seatbelt sensor company, IEE, which experienced a successful exit in 2016.
By 2017 Ascend had already begun their portfolio investment strategy into various European tech start-ups, actively helping them to scale globally. Its diverse team of skilled professionals continues to work hard to source and manage investments and, alongside an advisory board of industry veterans, to help bridge European innovation and Asian growth opportunities.