Medtech Companies to Watch: Spotlight on Icarus Medical


During our fifth annual LSI medtech summit in Dana Point, we heard from Icarus’ COO and Co-Founder, Evan Eckersley. Icarus Medical, one of the forward-thinking medtech companies selected to present at the event, is developing an innovative solution for pain from knee osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease of the knee.

Icarus represents a beacon of hope for the many individuals grappling with chronic joint pain and mobility challenges. With an entirely new class of bracing technology that can be applied to every joint in the body, Icarus is well-positioned to help many individuals live an active life free from pain.

Icarus’ Origin Story

Eckersley begins his talk by sharing a look into Icarus’ humble beginnings. Icarus’ CEO and Founder, Dave Johnson, confronted the harsh reality of knee osteoarthritis at a young age. After suffering a significant knee injury in high school and later developing chronic knee osteoarthritis, Dave had a poor surgical outcome in his 30s. He was left in a situation where he could no longer do the things he loved, like skiing, snowboarding, and wakeboarding.

Experts told Johnson he would need to have his knee joint replaced. However, given his young age and active lifestyle, he realized this could be one of several highly invasive surgeries he may need in his lifetime, with no assurances that he would be able to walk in his 60s.

After years of working on designs for a knee brace for his own use, Johnson founded Icarus Medical in 2019 to bring true medtech innovation to this crucial space.

The Lack of Solution

Knee osteoarthritis is a massive issue impacting 10% of Americans. 82 million quality-life-adjusted years are lost yearly, which is more than any other disease globally.

While undoubtedly a massive market, there was no effective conservative solution. Additionally, knee replacement surgery is not appropriate for many patients, whether due to age or comorbidities.

Icarus’ Solution

Enter Icarus and their groundbreaking creation, the Ascender. By utilizing a brand new bracing technology, the Ascender is the only solution on the market that can effectively unload all three compartments of the knee, including the patellofemoral compartment.

Unlike most osteoarthritis braces that primarily offer stability to the knee, the Ascender provides actual assistance to the user. Despite the ultra-light-weight design, the Ascender can unload up to 40 lbs from the knee joint, with customizable support levels controlled via an easy-to-use dial.

In prospective studies, the Ascender demonstrated significant improvements in patient quality of life. 98% of patients in prospective studies indicate substantial pain relief. On average, Icarus is seeing:

  • 61% reduction in pain
  • 37% improved function
  • 83% delaying knee surgery

“When you’re in pain and you’re suffering all the time, it’s like your life is over. With my brace, I don’t hurt anymore. I don’t feel like it’s over.” -Beverly G., Ascender user

3D Scan-to-Print Approach

Icarus looks to revolutionize the bracing industry by leveraging a 3D scan-to-print method to deliver a more personalized yet rapid solution. Using an iPhone’s LiDAR sensors and the Icarus Medica app, a 3D scan of the knee can be taken in seconds. This data can then be sent to the cloud, where Icarus’ robust design animation algorithm fits the brace to the patient. At this point, everything can be printed at scale within 24 hours.

Looking Ahead for Icarus

The conservative care market for knee osteoarthritis is valued at $6.5 billion and has a substantial annual growth rate. Icarus is strategically poised to capture a large share of this market. Initially, their business model included traditional B2B channels, targeting the VA and DoD, orthotic and prosthetic clinics, and orthopedic health networks.

The Icarus team quickly realized their potential in the D2C market. By reaching people who experience their daily lives directly through social media, they found that for every dollar in ad spend, they have the potential to generate 12 dollars in revenue.

Since the launch of their flagship product in 2021, Icarus has experienced remarkable growth while attaining 80% gross profit margins. Icarus now owns 18 patents (awarded and pending) covering every joint in the body, including Icarus devices and software.

In addition to the off-the-shelf variant of the Ascender brace that will launch in the D2C market later this year, Icarus plans to cover a wide range of orthopedic solutions, launching two new products every year for the coming years.

Newer additions to the Icarus team, such as Mark Hottle from Stryker and Bill Bugbee from Scripps, bring decades of medtech industry experience and proven track records of successful exits.


Finding Comfort in the City: Alleviating Chronic Pain

Previous article

You may also like


Comments are closed.

More in Health