Surgical robot maker Hurwa starts pre-IPO tutoring, falling behind in monetization

Hurwa's situation more or less mirrors the state of affairs of its domestic competitors. A slower-than-expected lab-to-market process is holding them back.

Hurwa (和华瑞博), a surgical robot manufacturer, recently applied for a pre-listing tutoring process, with CITIC Securities, a major securities brokerage firm, providing the service, Chinese media reported yesterday.

Hurwa reportedly submitted its bid to stock regulators in central China’s Henan Province.

Founded in 2018 in Beijing, Hurwa is dedicated to the development of orthopedic surgical robotics.

It supplies with hospitals and other healthcare providers with orthopedic surgical robots, auxiliary equipment and consumables, as well as technical services, according to the company’s website.

Public records show that Hurwa’s first product, KRobot-5800, is the country’s first homegrown and licensed knee transplant surgical robot.

This gave it an edge over latecomers like Yuanhua Technology (元化智能) and Rossum Robot (罗森博特).

Early mover advantage?

In January 2020, orthopedists at Peking Union Medical College Hospital completed the nation’s first robot-assisted knee transplant surgery with the help of Hurwa’s KRobot 5800.

The company’s second-generation orthopedic robot came as an improved version of its predecessor. It is a multi-purpose device, capable of performing Total knee arthroplasty (TKA), total hip arthroplasty (THA), as well as transfemoral and transtibial amputation.

R&D work is underway on other products, such as a spinal surgery navigation platform and AI-driven orthopedic surgery path-planning software.

Hurwa has to date closed six rounds of funding, roping in investors such as home appliance giant Midea, SDIC Fund and SFund. The last fundraise, a Series C round, took place in September 2022, when it received a cash injection from GF Venture Capital.

The firm chose to not go public with the amount of funding.

Belated monetization efforts?

Despite the company’s achievements and early-mover strengths, it appears to face a rather long prototype-to-product cycle in the surgical equipment industry.

The firm reported 7.25 million yuan (US$1.02 million) in revenue for the first half of this year, with a gross margin of 70.52%.

In the meantime, its net loss attributable to shareholders after deducting non-recurring gains and losses amounted to 48.89 million yuan.

The firm didn’t post any revenue in the previous year, suggesting it had only started serious attempts at monetization.

Hurwa explained that it had only obtained the permit from National Medical Product Administration to market its KRobot 5800 in the first half of last year.

Commercialization thus is still in the early stages, the firm concluded.

Hurwa’s situation more or less mirrors the state of affairs of its domestic competitors. A slower-than-expected lab-to-market process is holding them back.

Notwithstanding the ambitions of Chinese surgical robot producers to catch up with and even surpass foreign rivals like Intuitive Surgical, they have yet to deliver the financial results necessary to convince investors.

Two such firms, Tinavi (天智航, 688277.SH) and MicroPort (微创医疗, HK: 02252), went public but are a long way from significantly growing their revenue anytime soon.

Tinavi recorded 82 million yuan in revenue in 23H1, up 34.41% from the same period last year, while MicroPort’s revenue jumped by a staggering 4,495.9% to 48 million yuan during the same reporting period.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Trip.com Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at nitao0927@gmail.com.

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