New Investment: Sweat Sensors Developer Eccrine Systems

Eccrine Systems, Inc., announces it has raised $1.5MM in seed funding in a round led by CincyTech Fund III, with participation from management and other sources within the CincyTech investor community. Formed in late 2013, the advanced sweat sensor company is developing disposable electronic patch systems based on innovative research and intellectual property that originated from the University of Cincinnati and Air Force Research Labs at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

According to Dr. Jason Heikenfeld, lead UC researcher and co-founder of the company, sweat secreted from eccrine glands in human skin holds great promise as the best non-invasive bodily fluid for the real-time capture and transmission of robust biomarker data. “Although the analysis of sweat goes back to the 1950’s, it never gained significant momentum as a non-invasive alternative to blood due to the limitations of fluid collection. One might as well draw a blood sample rather than scoop sweat off the skin repeatedly to get enough of a sample before sending to a lab for testing.” Fast forward to the current era of microfluidics, nanotechnology, miniaturized electronics, continuous connectivity and cloud-based computing. Heikenfeld continues, “The convergence of these and other technologies will launch sweat into full prominence as the best non-invasive fluid source for secure, real-time monitoring of human physiological function or dysfunction. We foresee many high value applications for our Sweatronics™ platform across medicine, industry and sport.”

Robert Beech, Eccrine’s executive chairman and co-founder, echoes Heikenfeld’s outlook and provides further insight about the strategic positioning of the company, “We recognize there are many well-known companies vying for the attention of broad consumer markets for wearable devices, which often intersect with fashion trends and personal image choices. In direct contrast, our efforts are aimed at specialized and regulated medical and business markets that expect proof of data accuracy and chronological assurance, plus credible scientific studies related to physiological and economic outcomes. Furthermore, our low profile electronic patches are being designed for placement on discreet skin locations that do not interfere with work, play, sleep, or personal image preferences.”

The company is deploying a platform business model that seeks exclusive relationships with downstream partners across multiple market segments. Explains Beech, “There are very large opportunities in areas such as medication adherence, clinical trials management, industrial safety, medical diagnostics, treatment effectiveness, nutrition support, and elite performance optimization. The secure, real-time monitoring of sweat biomarkers in these segments offers the potential for valuable breakthroughs in improved safety, effectiveness, and economic outcomes. We bring to each partnership our pioneering IP portfolio, modular Sweatronics platform, and innovative prototyping capabilities. In turn, our market-savvy partners collaborate closely with us to develop and embed Sweatronics patch systems within their respective product offerings.”

“The implications for real-time trending and interpretation of sweat biomarkers, derived from very tiny amounts of sweat captured under a small electronic patch, are profound,” states Mike Venerable, Managing Director at CincyTech. “The Eccrine team is very focused on enabling this important technology opportunity and its positive impact on many aspects of life.”

BlackbookHR Adds Workplace Diversity Expert to Board of Directors

BlackbookHR, a human resources technology company helping organizations create engaged and connected workplaces, announced today that DiversityInc founder and CEO Luke Visconti joined their team as an investor and board member. With this addition, BlackbookHR gains Visconti’s deep expertise in leadership, corporate diversity and veterans’ affairs, which will support the company’s rapid expansion, said the company in a news release.

Read the full release here.

Read an interview with Luke Visconti on the BlackBookHR blog here.

Assurex Health Closes $30 Million Financing Round

Assurex Health has announced a $30 million round of financing from new and existing investors to continue its work in neuropsychiatric pharmacogenomics.

Read the full release here.

Kapture Featured on The Price Is Right

Kapture’s audio recording wristband was featured on The Price Is Right, the nation’s longest running TV show, on Tuesday December 9. The game show attracts 5.4 million viewers daily on CBS stations around the country. CBS producers discovered Kapture in a USA Today article written in January, and thought the product’s uniqueness would generate attention.

“Kapture wants to be wherever our target consumer is. Moms and parents of young children watch The Price is Right. When they reached out, we jumped at the opportunity,” said Matthew Dooley, co-founder of Kapture. The young startup also saw this as a cost-effective way to gain national exposure and to stand out during the hectic and very competitive Christmas shopping season.

Watch video of Kapture’s device on The Price Is Right here.

Watch news coverage of Kapture founders on the eve of the show here.

CincyTech Invests in Strap

CincyTech announces our newest portfolio company: Strap, the premier software and analytics platform for wearable technology. CincyTech led a $1.25 million seed round of investment with participation from Mercury Fund, Vine Street Ventures, Danmar Capital, Hyde Park Venture Partners, and New Coast Ventures and angels including Wendy S. Lea. The funding will fuel the company’s growth through product development while increasing partnerships with developers, enterprises and brands.

With Strap Metrics, the world’s first analytics platform for wearable tech, Strap makes it easy to view and optimize the unique sensory data that wearables capture. Strap also offers Strap Kit, a powerful toolkit that allows developers to write their wearable application once, in JavaScript, and deploy it across multiple platforms, with Strap Metrics built right in. Strap is available now for Pebble, Android Wear and Glass, and will soon add support for Tizen and Apple Watch.

“Strap has created an important layer of software that has to exist for wearable tech to work,” said CincyTech Managing Director Mike Venerable. “Developers need it, big companies need it. It allows developers to focus on functionality for the end user.”

“We are very fortunate to have a great group of investment partners on board with us,” said Steve Caldwell, co-founder and CEO of Strap. “The wearables market is poised for hockey-stick growth in the next 12 months, but challenges of fragmentation and increasing data points make it very difficult for existing app developers and stakeholders to jump in with both feet. We are in a perfect position to grow our world class suite of tools and platforms to lower the barrier to entry in the growing wearables ecosystem.”

Strap is a 2014 graduate of The Brandery, one of the nation’s top seed stage accelerator programs in Cincinnati, Ohio. Its founders include Caldwell, a veteran IT professional and software developer, and Patrick Henshaw, a West Point engineering graduate and former US Army Ranger. The founders have moved from Mississippi to locate their headquarters in Cincinnati, taking advantage of a robust startup ecosystem that features growing access to capital, a network of Fortune 500 companies and lower business costs.

“The startup community is strong here and has been validated. Modulus, Roadtrippers and other Brandery graduates have been successful here,” said Henshaw. “It goes without saying that costs are lower, but what really attracts us to Cincinnati is the energy around the startup tech community. Just like OTR is experiencing a revitalization, the tech industry here is getting a ton of care and attention as it grows, attracting the right talent and money along the way.”

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