Sydney-based med-tech startup, loop+, has recently landed on a $3M venture capital investment led by icare Foundation, Silicon Valley-based Yamaha Motor Ventures, Giant Leap Fund, Eleanor Venture and local angel investors.
With a collective of platforms developed for wheelchair users to monitor their health, loop+ provides a collaborative space for individuals, their care teams and clinicians to manage relevant health concerns.
The founders of loop+, Kath Hamilton and Clare Conroy, are sisters with a shared vision of reducing health risks for wheelchair users.
Their partnership began close to home, as Kath and Clare embarked on a personal quest of improving the health of Clare’s then six-year-old son, Evander.
“Evander did daily rehab exercises but there was no way to track his functional recovery or whether he was doing them correctly,” explained Kath.
“If sitting is the new smoking then you can appreciate the many health concerns for wheelchair users that are caused by sitting too long – pressure injury, scoliosis and respiratory issues.”
However, most of the wheelchair users are oblivious to the presence of these risks.
As many wheelchair users cannot feel their body below the waist, they do not feel the pain or discomfort that signals the need for readjustment, leading to a general need for professional care from the community.
“The cost of care each year in Australia alone is $7 billion – exceeding diabetes and stroke. Wheelchair users see a clinician six times more than the average person each year and are desperate for ways to manage their own health,” said Kath.
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Although it was not easy for loop+ to get sufficient financial backing, considering the fact that its market is extremely niche, the company persevered.
With the funds recently raised, loop+ intends to focus on further technological and market development.
The investment is also set to meet the demand to put in the first 1,000 wheelchairs in Australia and ramp-up pilots in hospitals in the USA.
“There’s a growing sense of urgency as our industry and clinical partners see the potential for our technology. Our Australian and US trials resulted in an overwhelming demand to purchase loop+.
“We’re thrilled that this raise will enable us to manufacture loop+ at scale to improve the lives of the millions of wheelchair users worldwide.”
As an insurance and care service, icare Foundation has been supporting loop+ since as early as 2017.
To reaffirm its commitment to loop+, the Foundation has contributed a further $0.5 million on top of its initial $0.5M investment, which was used to develop the loop+ prototype tracker into a successful minimum viable product three years ago.
“We know that over 85 per cent of wheelchair users will develop a pressure injury in their lifetime and any technology that can detect and prevent injuries earlier is a positive development,” said Barney Smith, General Manager at icare Foundation.
“We are really proud to have paved the way and to now be joining with Yamaha Ventures in their first investment in Australia and their first in digital health globally.”