Revolutionising Prosthetics: Koalaa Raises $1.2M for International Expansion

London-based startup Koalaa, renowned for its innovative soft prosthetic arms that enhance independence for individuals with limb differences worldwide, has successfully completed a $1.2 million (£925,000) funding round.

Led by the British Design Fund and bolstered by a £200,000 investment from the Imperial College Enterprise Fund II (ICEF), which supports startups with strong ties to the University, this funding, initiated in July 2022, is earmarked for Koalaa's international expansion. Founded in 2020 by Imperial College London alumnus Nate Macabuag, Koalaa aims to tackle the primary challenges of access, affordability, and comfort within the global limb difference community. Koalaa's soft prosthetics, crafted from fabric, offer a breathable, snug fit, making them lightweight, comfortable, and affordable, thus suitable for individuals of all ages, including young children. These prosthetics can be shipped globally at a minimal cost.

Featuring interchangeable tools tailored to user feedback and requirements, these prosthetics adapt to various activities. Koalaa also pairs new users with a 'limb buddy' for ongoing support.

Widely utilised by both children and adults with limb differences across the globe, including those in developing and conflict-affected areas, Koalaa has introduced the world's first 'early rehab' prosthetic arm, deployable shortly after surgery. The latest investment will fuel further product innovation, expand Koalaa's team domestically and internationally, and enhance collaborations with clinicians and NGOs, aiming to increase prosthetic distribution in 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.