Luna Innovations sells shape-sensing technology for medical applications

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Roanoke-based Luna Innovations Inc. has sold its shape-sensing technology for medical applications to Intuitive Surgical Inc. in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Luna develops and manufactures a variety of products for the telecommunications, aerospace, automotive, energy and defense markets. It will retain its  shape-sensing technology for nonmedical industries.

Under terms of the deal, Luna will receive $12 million upfront and up to an additional $18 million after meeting certain technical milestones and commercial measures.

Intuitive will acquire Luna’s fiber-optic, shape-sensing and localization technology, including related patents, and hire a number of engineering employees who formerly worked in Luna’s medical shape-sensing business.

“This sale is the culmination of the shape-sensing development we’ve done over the past several years for potentially integrating into Intuitive’s future products,” Luna President and CEO My Chung said in a statement.

“One of the many benefits of this agreement is the ability to monetize much of the value of our innovations immediately — rather than waiting for longer-term revenues from development and potential supply agreements — while enabling us to streamline our focus on the growth opportunities that we believe exist for our strain/temperature sensing business, especially within the automotive and aerospace markets.”

Luna officials said the sale allows the company to focus on the growth potential of its fiber-optic sensing business while strengthening its balance sheet. The aim of the fiber-optic sensing business is to improve manufacturing and testing of composite and noncomposite materials, structures and systems.

The sale includes provisions that maintain Luna’s ability to service its existing agreements and for the continued use and exploration of opportunities outside the medical industry.

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