Sword Health. There is a new unicorn with Portuguese DNA – Observer

You have free access to all Observer articles by being our subscriber.

*In update.

It is the sixth unicorn (company valued at more than one billion dollars, around 886 million euros) with Portuguese DNA. The digital physiotherapy startup created and led by Virgílio Bento was valued at two billion dollars (about 1.7 billion euros) after having closed an investment round of 189 million dollars (approximately 167.6 million euros) .

In a statement, Sword Health, which is officially headquartered in New York (USA), but claims to continue to have its “technological headquarters in Porto”, says it is the “fastest Portuguese startup to achieve unicorn status”.

Sword Health was founded in 2015 and is behind a digital platform to treat musculoskeletal disorders, which combines artificial intelligence with state-of-the-art sensors. According to the startup, the investment raised will allow “to accelerate the treatment of these pathologies through the development of new digital therapies, from prevention to post-surgery care”. In addition, the company plans to “accelerate local and global expansion” and recruit 300 employees over the next few months.

The funding announced this Monday comes after Sword Health closed a series B round of 25 million dollars (approximately 22.1 million euros) in January of this year, and after having closed 85 (approximately 75.3 million). million euros) in a Series C round held in June. To date, the company claims to have received “more than 320 million dollars (approximately 283.8 million euros) in the various rounds of investment”.

Sword Health. Digital physiotherapy startup closes new investment of 85 million dollars


The funding round was led by Sapphire Ventures with the participation of new investors Sozo Ventures, Willoughby Capital, ADQ, LocalGlobe, and current investors, “including General Catalyst, Khosla Ventures, Founders Fund, Bond, Transformation Capital and Green Innovations” , specifies the company.

Sword Health. Digital physiotherapy startup closes new investment of 85 million dollars

In the note sent to the press, the company founder recalls how he created the startup: “I created Sword after a traumatic personal experience where I saw and lived the challenges that families face when they have to ensure the physical recovery of a family member”.

In 1994, as reported by the company in a statement, the entrepreneur’s brother was run over by a crosswalk and was left in a coma that lasted twelve months. “It was necessary to go to the best rehabilitation center in Cuba where each patient had a fully dedicated physiotherapist”, he says. Therefore, Virgílio also dedicated his studies to minimize damage in these situations.

SWORD: a new rehabilitation system for stroke patients

In 2015, the entrepreneur already told part of this story to the Observer, when he also explained that “there is an increasing demand for neurorehabilitation services. The company thus ended up being born in the laboratories of the University of Aveiro, following the doctoral thesis of Virgílio Bento, who has a degree in electronic engineering.

It’s been truly gratifying to see the impact SWORD is having on thousands of people around the world. With this new round of funding, we will accelerate the creation of value for our clients as we continue to build the leading digital solution for treating musculoskeletal disorders in the healthcare world, available anywhere and for everyone.” , says the founder.

Currently, and as the company refers, “three out of four institutions that assess musculoskeletal solutions on the market choose Sword Health”. Why? “100% of their services are provided by physical therapists, an FDA listed device [reguladora norte-americana para medicamentos] which provides clinical data to physiotherapists to customize recovery, and third-party validation for both clinical outcomes and cost savings,” says the startup.

The other startups with unicorn status and with Portuguese DNA are: Farfetch, OutSystems, Talkdesk, Feedzai (the only one based in Portugal) and Remote.