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MEDU Takes $4M to Develop Reusable Personal Protective Equipment – Technology Flow

According to GreenHealth, in normal times, hospitals generate more than 5 million tons of waste each year. Personal protective equipment (PPE) has been in short supply for the past two years, and it has been widely reported that some have had to reuse single-use items such as surgical gowns.

MEDU, a Mexico-based startup, wants to reduce that waste and replace single-wear medical garments by creating sustainable, virus-resistant reusable pieces, including surgical gowns, headcoverings and full-body suits.

The company was launched in 2020 by CEO Tamara Chayo, a chemist and Thiel Fellow who has family in the medical and textile industries and saw firsthand the need for PPE. She and her team began researching fabrics capable of capturing viruses, and when they started getting positive test results from the lab, they set up MEDU.

The products are made with AAMI PB70 level 4 certified fabric, the highest liquid and microbial barrier protection, providing maximum protection against particles, viruses and bacteria, she told Technology Flow.

The company has started trials in Mexican hospitals, with an initial investment of $400,000, to test and validate results and see if doctors like wearing the products.

“Doctors said ours was comfortable for them, but we changed and learned a lot from that experience,” Chayo said. “The products are reusable for up to 50 washes, so you can use the same gown instead of changing into a different one, which saves money and waste.”

Tamara Chayo Medu PPE

Tamara Chayo, MEDU CEO. Image Credits: MEDU

To track those 50 washes, near-field communication (NFC) technology embedded in the garments is tracked in real-time and healthcare practitioners are notified via a mobile app of how many times the gown has been washed. After 50 wears, the cloth is returned to MEDU facilities where it is disinfected and converted into scrubs and sustainable packaging.

The company is profitable and continues to grow its revenue at a rate of 6x every month. Since January, it has deployed approximately 7,000 devices, equivalent to 3 million disposables, Chao said.

By the end of 2022, the company aims to replace more than 20 million single-use PPE gowns and divert 6,000 tons of hospital waste from landfills or incinerators. Additionally, the company has doubled in size and is working with hospitals in New York and Los Angeles.

Supply chain continues to be a major challenge, and MEDU is among other startups that have emerged in the past two years to help hospitals and healthcare practitioners get the equipment and PPE they need. This includes bttn, which raised $20 million in Series A funding in June for a medical supply marketplace to help doctors get the supplies they need faster and at a better cost.

MEDU is now flush with $4 million in seed funding in a round led by MaC Venture Capital, with participation from Halcyon Fund and a team of angel investors including Ryan Shea.

The funding will fuel the company’s growth as it expands in the US and develops its full-body suit. Chayo plans to partner with 15 hospitals across the US by the end of this year.

She explained that she decided to pursue venture capital to get partners who could contribute to the growth of the company. She felt MaC Venture Capital fit that bill — it was already an investor in healthcare companies — and could support the company as MEDU looked to improve and expand in the United States.

MEDU is working on US Food and Drug Administration approval for its garments, which Chao expects to happen later this year. It is applying for approval in the European Union and is about to start building ties in Israel. Meanwhile, the company is already approved in Mexico and is working with five hospitals.

Chayo’s personality, gumption and background as a chemist with family in the medical and textile industries made investing in MEDU “one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made,” MaC Venture Capital general manager Michael Palank told Technology Flow.

“You can’t script it,” he added. “She has FDA pre-approval, including trials at some of the largest well-known hospitals in the US, but those hospitals are introducing her to other hospitals, which is great at customer acquisition. MEDU is also doing well in Mexico, one of the largest hospitals in the country. It’s not much of a global company and it It’s going to get big very quickly.

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