Kiwi-made intelligent textile draws leading investors
Auckland 24th May: Four of New Zealand’s leading investor groups are backing Kiwi start-up Footfalls & Heartbeats Limited to realise the market potential of its innovative smart fabric technology.
The Christchurch company is commercialising a novel intelligent sensor fabric which does not require wires, straps or embedded electronics but, instead, uses nanotechnology and textile structure to make the fabric itself the sensor in a wide range of health-related applications.
Start-up investment firm Pacific Channel, which works with inventors to create high growth companies, is a cornerstone shareholder in Footfalls & Heartbeats. Following investment by the Global from Day One Seed Funding Programme, it has been joined by investment group GD1 Nominees, Sparkbox Venture Group, the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund and a group of private investors which includes entrepreneur Jeremy Collins and expat New Zealander David Bell, a Marketing Professor at Wharton Business School in the United States.
FHL is also the first New Zealand venture to secure investment from the Chinese ICE Angels, a group of high net worth Chinese looking for opportunities in early stage New Zealand companies.
FHL’s seed funding round was oversubscribed.
Jeremy Collins and Sparkbox Chairman Andrew Duff, join the board of Footfalls & Heartbeats and David Henry, formerly CFO of Fisher & Paykel and Deputy Chairman of IRL, has been appointed independent Chairman. Pacific Channel head Brent Ogilvie becomes Managing Director.
“It is terrifically powerful to have a company at Footfalls & Heartbeats’ stage attract seed funding from this number of quality investor groups,” says Ogilvie. “The investment, together with the management and governance expertise provided through their involvement, will help the company realise its goals for this world-class technology.”
Andrew Duff says Footfalls & Heartbeats is a “natural fit” with the Global from Day One Seed Funding Programme that Sparkbox manages.
“The funding programme seeks companies with strong IP propositions, looking for validation and growth in their global target markets. Footfalls & Heartbeats’ textiles have wide market application in health, athletics and composites, something which, we believe, can be built into a market-leading global enterprise.”
Footfalls & Heartbeats was founded by now UK-based New Zealand chemistry researcher Simon McMaster and has received research and development funding from the New Zealand government. Auckland University of Technology and crown research institute AgResearch have both been involved in developing the fabric.
Simon McMaster says Footfalls & Heartbeats’ relationship with founding investor Pacific Channel is critical to the gains being made.
“Having access to Pacific Channel’s commercial acumen, investment expertise and networks has fast-tracked progress for us. With new investors coming on board, we are a big step closer to realising the potential of our technology.”
One early potential application for Footfalls & Heartbeats’ technology is compression bandages for use on diabetic ulcers. With a United States partner, Footfalls & Heartbeats is in the early stages of developing a design for a bandage that can potentially measure its own tightness and convey information to medical staff by a colour change, noise or another kind of alert.
Other areas with potential include medical devices, medical monitoring during tests like electrocardiograms, infant monitoring, pressure sensing in wheelchairs and beds, and performance monitoring for top athletes. Beyond health, Footfalls & Heartbeats' technology also has the potential to measure the mechanical stress in composite structures such as satellites, aircraft wings, wind turbine blades, yacht hulls and foils and high performance car chassis.
Ogilvie says Footfalls & Heartbeats has already forged promising business relationships with several potential large corporate customers around the world.
For further information and media enquiries, contact
Brent Ogilvie Tel +64 (0)21 605566; +64 (0)9 3040868
Simon McMaster Tel +64 (0)21 08419261 (NZ); +44 (0) 7743558942 (United Kingdom) firstname.lastname@example.org
About Footfalls & Heartbeats
Footfalls & Heartbeats has developed a process for designing and manufacturing textiles where the textile itself can perform a sensory function. Footfalls & Heartbeats' textile can currently measure compressive force, tensile force and temperature. Footfalls & Heartbeats intends to also sense movement and bio-electrical output including heart-rate. Footfalls & Heartbeats is pursuing multiple applications including compression bandages (its first product application), remote physiological monitoring of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), stroke patients, workers in high-risk environments, infant and aged-care, athletic performance as well as composite structural integrity monitoring.
About Pacific Channel
Pacific Channel is New Zealand’s leading venture creation, development and investment firm focused on start-up and early-stage material and life-sciences and clean-tech innovation. Through its expertise, seed funds and access to external capital, Pacific Channel creates, builds and funds high growth potential companies.
About Global from Day One Fund
The Global from Day One Fund is a seed investment fund which aims to invest into around 25 start-up companies with international ambitions over the next four years. Its investors include some of New Zealand’s most experienced and active early stage investors, as well as a number of international investors. Nationally-focused early stage investor Sparkbox Ventures is managing the fund. The investment committee involves top start-up investors from across the country.