London prosthetics startup Koalaa raises $1.2 million

Investors in this round: British Design Fund

London startup, Koalaa, whose world-first soft prosthetic arms are aiding independence for individuals with limb differences around the world, has closed a funding round of $1.2 million (£925,000).

The round was initiated by existing investor British Design Fund and included £200,000 secured from the Imperial College Enterprise Fund II (ICEF), which invests in startup companies that have a strong connection to the University. The funds raised in this round, which started in July 2022, are being used to expand Koalaa’s business internationally.

Koalaa was founded in 2020 by Imperial alumnus Nate Macabuag and is on a mission to address the three main issues faced by the global limb difference community today – access, affordability and comfort. Unlike traditional prosthetics, Koalaa’s are made from fabric which is breathable and fits snugly against the arm. This means they are light, comfortable, suitable for even very young children, and can be sent around the world for a fraction of the cost.

Interchangeable tools, whose design is driven by user feedback and need, can be attached to the end of the sleeve and swapped in and out depending on the task the user would like to do. This means they can be used for an infinite number of activities. New users are linked with a limb buddy who provides support every step of the way.

Koalaa’s prosthetics are used by children and adults with limb differences globally, including in developing and war-torn regions, with the company having developed the world’s first ‘early rehab’ prosthetic arm, which can be used just hours after surgery.

The new funding is supporting ongoing product development, the growth of Koalaa’s team in both the UK and overseas and is seeing the company expand its work with clinicians and NGOs internationally, including increasing the supply of prosthetics to those within conflict zones.

Nate Macabuag, founder of Koalaa, commented: “A huge thank you to British Design Fund, Imperial College Enterprise Fund and our angel investors for their continuing support. I still find it incredible that something which started out as a spark of an idea at University, has turned into a fully-fledged company, employing a team of 18 people and with around 1,000 people worldwide now using Koalaa prosthetics!”

Nate added: “Koalaa is the only company in the world making soft prosthetic arms and we believe we have hit on a model of working that could aid inclusivity across the globe. Through our work with clinicians and NGOs, and also direct to consumer capabilities, we plan to continue to increase access to our prosthetics on a global scale.

“We are already the market leader in upper limb prosthetics in the UK for children, and see huge potential to support large numbers of adults here as well. It is our hope that one day soon our products will be made available through the NHS.”

Damon Bonser, CEO, British Design Fund, said: “What has always really impressed us about Koalaa is the team’s focus on end users, their needs and feedback, which is central to every stage of the product development process. Koalaa’s prosthetics also solve many of the challenges presented by traditional prosthetics and the growth of their global user base has been incredible to watch.”

Brijesh Roy, Head of Startup Investment Funds, Imperial College London, said: “Nate and the team are a great example of the innovative startups being founded by Imperial College’s community. Koalaa’s soft prosthetics are addressing an unmet need and the investment provides the financial fuel to scale this impact globally.”

There are four main types of Koalaa prosthetics currently available – the ALX for those with below elbow limb differences, the Paww for those with partial hands and fingers, the Joeyy for babies and infants and the Day One for use immediately after amputation.

The prosthetics are available to purchase through the website and can be shipped to almost any country in the world. In the UK, Koalaa prosthetics are available for free to anyone aged 18 or younger, through a charitable initiative called Project Limitless.


London prosthetics startup Koalaa raises $1.2 million

London prosthetics startup Koalaa raises $1.2 million

By Amy Archer British Design Fund Profile 19 Feb 2024