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Bill Gates-backed Vicarious Surgical to go public in $1.1 billion SPAC deal

An image provided by Vicarious Surgical showing how a surgeon would use a virtual reality headset to operate the robotics machine in the background.
An image provided by Vicarious Surgical showing how a surgeon would use a virtual reality headset to operate the robotics machine in the background.Courtesy of Vicarious Surgical

Vicarious Surgical, a company that brings virtual reality and tiny robots to the operating room, is the latest technology firm planning to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company.

The Charlestown-based company will merge with D8 Holdings Corp., a Hong Kong-based SPAC, in a deal that values the combined company at about $1.1 billion.

Adam Sachs, cofounder and chief executive of Vicarious Surgical, said the company aims to overcome the limitations of “legacy robotics platforms,” which he said include high costs, mobility limitations, and lengthy training time.

“Our robotic solution has arms that replicate human motion, offering remarkable mobility,” he said in a press release. “Our robot can see, reach, and work anywhere inside the abdomen, which effectively shrinks the surgeon and puts her/him inside the human body.”

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With Vicarious technology, surgeons put on a virtual reality headset and control robotic arms to perform minimally invasive surgery, an approach that garnered the company a “breakthrough device designation” from the Food and Drug Administration in 2019. The company will first seek regulatory approval for a type of hernia repair, and in the next few years it aims to tackle gall bladder procedures. Sachs, an MIT graduate, added that the company’s robotics system can fit through a standard door, making it easy to move from one operating room to another.

Vicarious, which launched in 2014, has 85 employees and is backed by Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures, and the venture capital firms founded by former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt and Yahoo founder Jerry Yang.

As part of the deal, Vicarious will receive a $115 million investment backed by BD, a global medical technology giant, and new and existing investors. When the transaction closes, which is expected in the third quarter of this year, Vicarious will have more than $425 million in cash. Vicarious predicts it will generate $1 billion in revenue by 2027, according to an investor presentation.

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Vicarious joins a growing number of tech companies in Massachusetts that are planning to go public through SPACs instead of pursuing traditional IPOs, including crowd safety-tech company Evolv Technology, warehouse robotics maker Berkshire Grey, and industrial 3D-printing firm Markforged. Those firms are not yet publicly traded, but Boston sports-betting company DraftKings and Burlington 3D-printing company Desktop Metal took the SPAC route to become publicly listed last year.


Anissa Gardizy can be reached at anissa.gardizy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @anissagardizy8.