Arspectra: From Scale-up Vision To Augmented Reality

Cédric Spaas, general manager at Arspectra (Photo © Léna Leroy / Silicon Luxembourg)

In March 2024, Arspectra, a company specializing in medical augmented reality (AR) glasses, began participating in Luxembourg’s first national scale-up support program, marking a significant milestone and challenge. Cédric Spaas, the general manager of Arspectra, discusses the company’s goals for the program, the uses of medical AR glasses, and the difficulties of breaking into a growing market that could reach over €50bn.

Augmented Reality (AR) once shared a similar story with AI – lots of hype but little market penetration. However, just as AI turned the tables and became indispensable, AR is now getting closer to hitting maturity regarding product-market fit.

“AR was strongly hyped eight to nine years ago, had its peak and then stalled. Today, you can see that startups and larger players have figured out where AR has the biggest added value and that the market is moving up again.”

Cédric Spaas, general manager at Arspectra.

In collaboration with and for various MedTech partners, Arspectra‘s glasses aim to tackle a part of this market with a primary focus on medical applications, ranging from oncological to orthopaedic procedures:  ”With our partners, we are targeting specific submarkets in the medical AR glasses field. If all would be mixed together and considering multiple other key applications I would expect that the future total market value has the potential to evolve to over €50bn.”

Moving towards commercialisation

Launched in 2018 with the long-term vision of creating one specific medical AR device, the Luxembourg medtech has already developed multiple technologies to date that are at various levels of development, regulatory approval, and commercialisation. 

“When launching Arspectra we had the vision of creating one original device. While developing that we were able to spin-off other versions for very interesting and novel applications,.”

Cédric Spaas, general manager at Arspectra.

Arspectra’s AR glasses can be broadly divided into three levels of capability. The first type of device mirrors a screen, showing the same visuals on the AR glasses as on a computer screen behind the surgeon for example. The second type of device has a camera attached to the glasses and is, therefore, suitable for a wide range of educational and remote assistance use cases. 

Both of these devices are now to be commercialised on a bigger scale. This is one of the major aims of Arspectra’s participation in the ministry of economy and Luxinnovation’s scale-up programme, for which Arspectra is one of three selected companies.

“This programme fits well with our overall strategy given that we have commercial products that are ready to scale to large international markets,” explains Cédric.

Scaling impact

Scaling up presents a significant challenge for any company, particularly those operating within the tightly regulated healthcare sector. Fortunately, the timing aligned perfectly for Arspectra, with the commercial readiness of some of its products coinciding with Luxembourg’s ambition to create a unicorn company through its scale-up support programme.

The sector within which Arspecta operates seems to have played no small role in its selection too. “Medtech is a sector that is booming on a global level if you look at the investments it’s attracting and Luxembourg is putting a lot of efforts in that direction now too,” says Cédric.

Starting in March 2024, the scale-up program aims “to support start-ups in their business, financial, and team development,” aligning with the government’s ambition “to create an interconnected journey from an innovative idea to unicorn status,” according to the minister of economy, Lex Delles, in the press release announcing the companies’ selection.

“Scaling the impact we can have on patient outcomes and solving healthcare bottlenecks is our unicorn driver.”

Cédric Spaas, general manager at Arspectra.

The time-saving impact of its ARC (without camera) and REA glasses (with camera), both of which Arspectra is going to commercialise on a wider scale during the scale-up programme is quite straightforward. However, the value this time saved can have on patients, hospital staff and learning is significant.

Arspectra’s ARC (left) and REA models are set be commercialised on a global scale (© Léna Leroy / Silicon Luxembourg)

“When you save time, you not only save money for the healthcare system and the patient and the insurances, but you also allow surgeons to do more procedures. For patients with critical diseases this can be lifesaving,” explains Cédric.

Guiding surgeons 

The third type of device, which Arspectra envisioned at the company’s inception, has piqued widespread curiosity. While developing and assuring clinical compliance of its upcoming technology, Arspectra can say that this third type of glasses has “assisted guidance capabilities” which will not only help doctors in their decision-making but also be able to guide them as they do their procedures.

“Those navigation devices will start actively supporting the decision-making of the surgeons by for example showing them critical visuals at key moments of the procedures. That’s when new technologies evidently require thorough clinical evaluations and trials prior to be regulatory-wise approved. Companies have to go through the clinical, quality, and regulatory aspects very thoroughly,.”

Cédric Spaas, general manager at Arspectra.

How long exactly this regulatory approval will take depends on the intent of use and application, as well as the geographical and regulatory market approached, but Arspectra’s team is committed to getting the product certified as soon as posssible and released on the market within the next years.

“One of our goals by the end of the year is to have regulatory approval for one of our novel and advanced systems,” says Cédric.

Strategic expansion and funding support

Arspectra faces the simultaneous challenges of securing regulatory approval, commercializing their approved products, and expanding their footprint on the European and American markets to outpace the competition. Fortunately, the company’s involvement in Luxembourg’s scale-up program and the funding received from the prestigious European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator provides significant support in achieving these goals.

“What I appreciate is that the scale-up programme goes beyond just a classic advisory programme. The programme is very tailored to your needs which is important and will help us address our different needs.”

Cédric Spaas, general manager at Arspectra.

Similarly, the EIC programme, which supports companies with proven innovation results, provides important funding and has challenged Arspectra throughout its application process, bringing the company “to a higher level where we needed to be to obtain the grant.”

While Arspectra’s various technological, clinical, and commercial developments cost millions, Cedric points out that the competition routinely raises funds in the eight, in some cases, even nine-figure range.

As Arspectra embarks on its scale-up journey to introduce its first AR glasses to a broader market, it faces stiff competition internationally. The impact of Luxembourg’s “right mix of partners and local ambition” on Arspectra’s journey toward success is still unfolding. Yet, the steadfast support from Luxembourg gives one a sense of cautious optimism about the company’s future.

Firmly dedicated to its long-term vision, Arspectra is now concentrating on obtaining regulatory approval for its next-generation glasses and accelerating commercial partnerships and production of some of its other products.

With the commercial reach of Arspectra’s products being scaled to international markets, the effectiveness of Luxembourg’s scale-up program in supporting Arspectra’s aspirations now takes center stage, marking a critical phase in the company’s journey.

This article was first published in the Silicon Luxembourg magazine. Read the full digital version of the magazine on our website, here. You can also choose to receive a hard copy at the office or at home. Subscribe now.

Related Posts