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UMB Startup Breethe Acquired by Abiomed to Commercialize Wearable Artificial Lung System

The Deal Marks Another Successful Exit Supported by UM Ventures

Breethe, a company built on technology licensed out of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), was acquired by Abiomed, a publicly-traded medical device company located in Massachusetts, in late April 2020. Financials were not disclosed, but the deal represents another UMB success story that received early backing from the tech transfer program UM Ventures, which is a joint initiative launched out of UMB and the University of Maryland, College Park in 2012.

In 2015, Breethe obtained exclusive rights to UMB IP for the development of a portable extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) device invented by Breethe’s Founder and well-known University of Maryland School of Medicine professor in pulmonary transplant surgery, Dr. Bartley Griffith. Dr. Griffith’s ECMO device is novel in that it is a portable, wearable, “out-of-hospital” artificial lung system that removes carbon dioxide and adds oxygen to a patient’s blood without the need to be hooked up to larger, bulkier, immobile equipment. 

UMB invested in Breethe via UM Ventures, providing $100K of funding early in the company’s history. Breethe was one of UM Ventures’ first investments and marks the sixth UMB startup to exit in the last three years. Through UM Ventures, UMB invested in four of these companies, including Breethe, Harpoon, Living Pharma, and SurgiGyn. 

“Breethe was able to stay in Baltimore County, they brought in a lot of local engineers and made tremendous progress over the past few years. They have a great partner in Abiomed who is positioned to fast track commercialization. Breethe’s ECMO device will be a very important product for them. It is great to see this vision — this dream that Dr. Griffith had for such a long time actually happen. We’re really happy for him personally, for the company, for the City of Baltimore, and for patients that could have a much better quality of life,” stated Phil Robilotto, Director of UM Ventures and Associate Vice President of Technology Transfer at UMB.

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