Microbots-surgeons will bring billions to their creator

The Vicarious Surgical startup, in which Bill Gates and Eric Schmidt have invested, intends to make abdominal operations safer and cheaper. Its weapon is a miniature robotic surgeon, capable of penetrating the abdominal cavity through a tiny incision and moving inside.

A robot equipped with two arms and a camera can enter the patient's abdomen through an incision of less than 25 mm and move in any direction. Reducing the size of a surgical robot is extremely difficult, but Vicarious hopes to help doctors perform abdominal surgery faster, safer, and with fewer complications than they currently do. Entrepreneurs expect to bring their product to market in 2023.

Vicarious has attracted notable investors including billionaires Bill Gates, Vinod Khosl (fortune, according to Forbes Real-Time, $ 2.8 billion), Eric Schmidt ($ 23.1 billion) and Jerry Yang ($ 2.3 billion).

The first market that Vicarious targeted was hernia surgery, or hernioplasty. It is in great demand: in the United States, more than 2 million such operations are performed annually.

Vicarious is now about to go public through a merger with SPAC, set up by Hong Kong investor Donald Thang. The combined company, worth $ 1.1 billion, plans to raise $ 115 million, and one of the investors will be medical technology giant Becton Dickinson, who makes surgical meshes used for hernia repair. The combined company projects that its annual revenue will reach $ 1 billion by 2027.