Patient monitoring company EarlySense has announced a strategic cooperation agreement with Japanese company Mitsui. EarlySense has developed a system of sensors installed in the beds and chairs of patients and elderly people at risk in order to monitor their movements and warn about deterioration or a risk of falling. The Mitsui group, one of the world's largest conglomerates with a sales volume of $55.7 billion, will try to gain a foothold for EarlySense's products in the Japanese market. The extent of the cooperation is unknown.
EarlySense, selected by "Globes" as one of the most promising startups in 2012, has been doing well. A few months ago, it signed a strategic agreement with Samsung for joint development and marketing of new products, and also obtained an investment from Samsung.
Managed by CEO Avner Halperin, EarlySense currently operates in the US, Europe, and a number of Asian countries, but has not hitherto entered Japan, considered the world's second largest medical market. As part of the agreement, Mitsui will take responsibility for obtaining marketing approval for the product, and will also distribute it in Japan. In addition, Mitsui will take part in EarlySense's financing round by investing $5 million in the company, bringing the total for the round to $25 million. Already reported in "Globes," the round includes investments by Samsung ($10 million) and the company's previous investors, among them Pitango Venture Capital, Noaber, JK&B, ProSeed Venture Capital Fund (TASE:PRSD), and the Makov family's Orange Blossom Ventures (OBV) fund, as well as medical equipment company Welch Allyn, another veteran partner of EarlySense.
Founded in 2004, EarlySense has raised a total of $63 million, excluding the current round. The market estimates its revenue at over $10 million. Halperin did not confirm this figure, but stated that EarlySense's products are now used by 250,000 people. Its monitoring products are currently sold to hospitals and senior citizens homes, but it is expected to also expand soon into the home monitoring market. Because the company's system is non-invasive, it is stationed under the mattress, and does not even touch the patient. Halperin believes that it can also be marketed to adults who are not patients, but who are in a high-risk group due to their age. "We believe that in the coming years, the home market will account for a significant part of our business," he said.
Commenting on the new contract, Halperin stated, "Japan is a country whose population is shrinking, with a rising proportion of senior citizens. They are very worried that there are not enough carers or infrastructure to give appropriate treatment to these senior citizens, and they are therefore fairly quick about adopting automated and robot solutions for monitoring and supporting the elderly population."
Mitsui Social IT Platform Division general manager Jun-ichi Shibuta said, "The Japanese market has a strong need for advanced healthcare IT solutions to deal with the changing demographics. We have invested several years in studying the market and the various technologies that could answer this need. We found EarlySense and its successful and proven patient monitoring solution to be an excellent fit with the needs of the market."
Pitango general partner and EarlySense chairman of the board of directors Ittai Harel said, "EarlySense, like many Israeli technology companies, is seeing more and more opportunities for accelerated growth in the Asian markets. In approaching these markets, strong and synergistic partners are critically important. We could not have asked for a better partner for the Japanese market than Mitsui.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 14, 2015
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