• US Firm Acquires Irish Start-up

    US sleep therapy group ResMed has acquired Irish start-up BiancaMed in a multi-million euro cash deal. The University College Dublin spin-out has developed a sensitive motion sensor that can detect movement and respiration without being connected to the body and then convert the data into measurement of sleep and breathing patterns.

    A major application for such technology is in the diagnosis of sleep apnoea – where breathing is interrupted during sleep.

    The companies will not disclose the value of the deal but venture capital group Seventure, which led a €6 million fundraising for BiancaMed in July 2009, said it had made an excellent return on its investment.

    Altogether, BiancaMed has raised €11 million since it was founded in 2003 to commercialise research from UCD’s School of Electrical, Electronic and Mechanical Engineering.

    ResMed, which is a major player in the global market for therapies for sleep apnoea, was an early investor. Other investors are Enterprise Ireland, UCD, InvestNI and venture capital group DFJ ePlanet Capital.

    The US group does not currently have a “contact-free” means of diagnosing the condition, with most monitoring requiring electrodes and chest bands. The BiancaMed technology is seen as considerably less intrusive, cost effective and convenient.

    BiancaMed expects to launch its first product – a sleep monitor for adults – over the next year, initially in Asia and the United States. It is also developing a monitor for infants

    The technology is also being trialled at Vincent’s Hospital for patients diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

    The trial, which monitors patients at home for sudden weight gain, a factor that can signal a problem then sends the data to the hospital via mobile phone. The hope is that the technology will be able to cut hospital readmissions significantly.

    BiancaMed co-founder Conor Hanley said ResMed was particularly excited by the potential for the technology in the area of congestive heart failure. ResMed has recently restructured its management roles specifically to target this area.

    Founding directors Dr Hanley, Dr Philip de Chazal and Prof Conor Heneghan are among those to benefit from the sale of the company.

    Dr Hanley said all three would remain with the company under its new owners, who have committed to retaining, and hopefully, adding to its Irish presence. The company is based at UCD’s NovaUCD incubator centre.

    Dr Conor Hanley is a Sainsbury Management Fellow.

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