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WaveFront raises $2M in venture funding

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — WaveFront Dynamics Inc. closed on the first $2 million of a targeted $3 million round of venture investment, the company announced Tuesday.

Albuquerque-based WaveDyn, which launched last year, is developing an advanced eye-measurement system that could provide customized sight correction for difficult-to-treat patients.

The funding will allow it to finish developing its system and complete clinical trials for Food and Drug Administration approval, said founder and CEO Dan Neal.

“We’ll have several prototype iterations of the device before January, and then we’ll do testing for FDA listing,” Neal said. “We’re looking to launch our first product in April or May of 2021.”

Tramway Venture Partners, a local, early-stage fund that invests in biotechnology startups, led the round. An affiliate of California-based Phoenix Venture Partners, plus an angel investor, joined in.

WaveDyn is now raising the remaining $1 million of its $3 million target.

“We fully expect to close on the rest of it,” Neal said. “The timing is difficult with the coronavirus slowing things down.”

The new device builds on an eye-measurement system that Neal and his team previously built through a prior startup, WaveFront Sciences. That company, which Neal launched in 1996, provided diagnostics for laser eye surgery.

It was acquired in 2007 for $20 million, but changed ownership two times, ultimately landing at Johnson & Johnson. Even so, Neal’s WaveFront team continued to perfect the system, which is now used across the globe for LASIK surgery.

Last year, Johnson & Johnson ended new development efforts, paving the way for Neal and his team to pursue new markets by further developing the base technology into a measurement system for patients whose eyes can’t be treated with LASIK or standard contact lenses.

Unlike the LASIK device, which provides snapshot-like images of eyes, the new technology takes video-like images to record much more detail about an individual’s eyes to develop custom-made contact lenses.

WaveDyn plans to sell the system to providers, while also setting up a proprietary diagnostics operation to directly treat patients with its own specially-made lenses.

That duel-revenue business model, plus Neal and his team’s extensive experience, helped attract Tramway and Phoenix Venture Partners.

“This is a really mature, experienced team of people,” Tramway Fund Manager Waneta Tuttle told the Journal. “They have a compelling business model that combines both diagnostics with corrective treatment for rare eye diseases.”

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