Siyi Intelligence (司羿智能), a Shanghai-based soft-bodied robot startup specializing in rehabilitation, has announced the completion of a Series A round of funding valued at close to 100 million yuan (US$14.48 million), led by Chengdu Tianfu International Bio-Town Development Group, followed by existing shareholder Tao Capital.
Funds injected in Series A will be channeled to finance Siyi’s innovation in one-stop neural rehab solutions and also to help the firm build a digital rehab service platform.
Founded in 2017, Siyi Intelligence is a nationally certified high-tech firm committed to providing hospitals, residential communities and households with smart rehab products and innovative services.
The firm has built a variety of rehab robots for research, clinical and household applications, including a hand rebab robot with a brain-machine interface, and what it claims to be the country’s first soft-bodied lower extremity exoskeleton, called EasyWalk, and also its first upper limb rehab robot that meets the therapeutic needs of hospitals, communities and households.
Of all, the robotic hand, a flagship product of Siyi, incorporates a series of technologies such as soft-bodied pneumatic robotics, electrical muscle stimulation and AI, to sense the user’s intentions, and help them perform safe, effective and adequate active physiotherapy.
The wearable robot has been adopted by more than 3,000 healthcare providers in 80 countries and areas, benefiting 50,000 plus households, Siyi claimed.
The firm’s flexible exoskeleton EasyWalk, combining a bionic structure design and AI algorithms, prevent the somewhat mechanical gait often associated with hard-bodied robotic suits, while also providing the user with an assistive force tailored to his or her needs.
The highlight of EasyWalk, said Siyi, is that it cuts the price drastically to around 10,000 yuan, a fraction of the price tag on equivalents from foreign producers like ReWalk, Ekso Bionics and Hocoma.
This means the product has the potential for mass adoption in not just hospitals, but also within residential neighborhoods and urban homes.
This might be a game changer in democratizing rehab medicine in a market long hobbled by hefty prices of robotic therapists.
“We are keenly aware of the severe shortage of healthcare resources in the rehab industry and at community and family levels, and also China’s rapidly aging population,” said Yin Ganggang, founder and general manager of Siyi Intelligence.
“We uphold the vision of ‘rehab for all’ with passion and devotion, and readily rise to the challenges posed by the industry and the era, to provide common people with accessible and affordable rehab robots.”
Siyi’s Series A fundraising came at a time when China is ramping up efforts to bolster its rehab service provision.
The nation faces a chronic shortage of qualified physiotherapists, as well as professional, digitally driven rehab equipment to standardize rehab processes, automate tedious training sessions and generate data for further treatment.
Currently, patients suffering from stroke or other forms of mobility impairment have to grapple with the difficulty of accessing quality rehab service after being discharged from hospitals.
This problem has been compounded by China’s fast-graying demographics, adding pressure to enlarge the supply of more accessible and inclusive rehab medicine.
That’s where a few startups come in. Competition is already heating up in this sector, with Siyi Intelligence finding itself in the same league as more established rivals like Fourier Intelligence (傅利叶智能), a Series D startup also based in Shanghai and backed by global venture funds like SoftBank’s Vision Fund II and Aramco’s Prosperity7 Ventures, and up-and-coming players like ZD Medtech (卓道医疗).
To facilitate the application of clinical rehab theories, Siyi established a nexus between industry, research and healthcare institutions, forging links with well-known researchers such as Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Fudan University, Hobbs Rehabilitation in the UK, among others.
To date, the company boasts over 30 patents, and upwards of 50 registered trademarks and a dozen software IPs.