Valencell, a Raleigh startup that licenses its technology to makers of wearable smart devices, has raised $11 million in new funding that it will use to boost its R&D efforts and foster demand for its newest product.
Valencell announced its latest financing, which pushes its total funding to date to $24.5 million, on Tuesday.
“Obviously, we wouldn’t have been able to attract the money we did if we weren’t growing and scaling,” said CEO Michael Dering. The privately held company doesn’t disclose its revenue.
The company, which today has about 30 employees, is planning to hire an additional 10 workers, most of whom will work in Raleigh, Dering said.
Never miss a local story.
The market for smart wearables is booming. Market research firm IDC projects that shipments will enjoy a compound annual growth rate of 22.9 percent through 2019.
Founded in 2006, Valencell has licensed its technology to more than 25 companies, including LG, Sony and Intel. Its roster of licensees has more than doubled since 2014.
The company’s patented PerformTek technology enables wearers of headsets, armbands and other devices to accurately monitor key health data such as heart rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygen level and aerobic fitness while on the move.
In addition, in December Valencell launched BioPack, which is designed to make it faster and easier for companies to incorporate PerformTek technology into their products.
“It’s not just a new product,” said Ryan Kraudel, vice president of marketing. “It’s a new way companies ... can take advantage of our technology.”
Rather than license Valencell’s technology, BioPack customers receive pre-packaged modules consisting of PerformTek technology housed in a plastic casing. The modules are produced by a contract manufacturer in Asia.
Companies “can just plug it in, design their device around it, and go,” Kraudel said.
Valencell touts that BioPack can shave time-to-market by two to four months and reduce expenses stemming from engineering and manufacturing set-up by up to $500,000.
“That’s been proven out with the early adopters of the technology,” Kraudel said. So far, he added, more than five customers have placed BioPack orders.
In January Valencell filed patent infringement lawsuits against industry giants Apple and Fitbit in federal district court in Raleigh. The lawsuits contend that the two companies knowingly and wrongly used Valencell’s technology without obtaining a license.
The lawsuit against Apple is focused on the Apple Watch, which debuted last year; the Fitbit lawsuit concerns that company’s Charge HR and Surge fitness devices.
Apple has yet to respond to Valencell’s lawsuit. On Monday Fitbit filed court papers denying that it infringed on any Valencell patents.
Fitbit also challenged the validity of the four patents that formed the basis of Valencell’s lawsuit and filed a counterclaim that contends that Valencell infringed on its patent for a “wearable heart rate monitor” with its heart rate and motion sensors.
Dering declined to comment on Fitbit’s counterclaim.
Valencell’s latest round of funding was led by GII Tech, a new venture capital fund launched by a financial services company based in the United Arab Emirates. Prior investors also participated in the funding.