A Chat with Esther Rodriguez-Villegas, Co-Founder at Medical Device Start-up: Acurable

Aceable is a medical device startup that I founded in 2016 to create and market a new breakthrough technology called AcuPebble. This technology was the result of many years of research in the laboratory I founded and continue to run at Imperial College London.

The first implementation of this technology brought to market by AcABLE is the AcuPebble SA100; A small, wearable sensor used to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is a serious condition affecting 1 billion people globally, and AcuPebble is much easier and faster than current diagnostic methods, which have long waiting lists, require extensive patient training and are time-consuming for clinicians.

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Today we have an office in London and another in Seville, and having just closed an €11m Series A round, we are looking to expand into new global markets, continuing our work on new products based on AcuPebble technology.

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

It already started with epilepsy. I knew I wanted to do something that had a social impact, and I decided that would be healthcare.

A colleague took me to a town called Chalfont, which was founded as a colony for epileptics in the late nineteenth century and is now a center of excellence for the diagnosis of epilepsy. There I saw people walking around covered with wires from head to belly. These patients were monitored continuously, in some cases for weeks, to see if epilepsy could be located.

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This inspired me, and I set out to create portable and unobtrusive monitoring devices to improve patients’ quality of life. I also wanted these devices to make it easier for clinicians to assess signals, by incorporating intelligence that can help through automatic interpretation.

As my knowledge grew, I didn’t want this to eventually become a purely academic exercise. So, I conceived of the idea of ​​a device with applications in more than one healthcare context. I decided to enter the XPRIZE competition in 2014, to test the clinical, social need, and market suitability for such a device.

Unexpectedly, we were one of the winners, and I started getting emails asking when the device would hit the market. At that point I decided to start a company to make it happen. In 2016, Accel was born.

How has the company evolved over the past two years?

The past two years have been very busy and exciting for the Acable Program! Since obtaining the CE marking in 2020, we have launched the AcuPebble SA100 in a number of markets, including Spain, Germany and Portugal, and with several NHS trusts in the UK.

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We received FDA clearance last year and are now preparing to launch it in the United States. We have developed the team in both London and Spain, and have won a number of grants and awards. And recently, we closed our first round of funding with an amazing group of investors led by Kibo Ventures, which will enable us to expand into new markets, and develop more products more quickly.

What do we hope to see from AcABLE in the future?

Our ambition is to diagnose 1 million patients remitted from obstructive sleep apnea in the next five years. This means expanding into new markets and expanding the company’s operations. We are also working on new products that can fundamentally improve remote patient monitoring across several major respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.


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