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Telecom invests $5m in Sir Ray Avery's Vigil

Telecom is paying $5 million for a 40% stake in medical monitoring business Vigil Wireless Sensor Technologies.

Vigil is a privately owned biometric technology company founded in 2012 by scientist, inventor and social entrepreneur, Sir Ray Avery, who is the company’s chief scientific officer. Its commercialisation has been aided by funding from Callaghan Innovation.

Sir Ray and several other private investors have put $1.5 million into the start-up, which in May this year received a $250,000 grant from government research agency Callaghan Innovation

"New health delivery models using digital technologies are needed to address worsening macro health-trends and help reduce health-care costs," Sir Ray says.

"Technology is the key to unlocking those new models of care. For example, Vigil offers an intelligent medical alarm using a bracelet and base station that will raise an alarm automatically if an adverse event such as a fall or change in heart rate is detected. Smart technologies such as this will enable more effective methods of medical monitoring. The potential benefits to New Zealand are enormous.”

The demographic trends are significant. Statistics New Zealand projects the population aged 65 and over to grow to over 780,000 by 2021 and over 1,000,000 by 2031. By 2051, around 1.18 million people are expected to be aged 65 and over in New Zealand, representing an increase of 165% since 1999. The consequential pressure on health services could be profound.

Vigil uses new sensing and digital technologies to provide a range of intelligent biometric medical monitoring and care services that can significantly increase personal well-being and safety, provide peace-of-mind to the elderly and their loved ones, and, ultimately, improve health outcomes.

The Vigil products and services ecosystem is run off a Cloud based platform, which provides smart biometric monitoring connectivity across a range of devices. They provide active, continuous biometric monitoring in real time.

Vigil services will meet a wide range of customer needs, including parents wanting baby monitoring, patients with long-term illnesses, infirmed who need medical alarms, health professionals wanting to monitor their patients and people wanting to monitor their own health and wellness.

Telecom Digital Ventures Chief Executive Rod Snodgrass believes the growth potential for Vigil is significant.

“The demand for smarter remote health monitoring systems will only grow as the population ages. Vigil offers medical monitoring solutions with many potential applications and with global potential.

“It’s a great fit with Telecom’s digital innovation arm Digital Ventures. Vigil has market-leading digital technologies that run across telecommunications networks and the Cloud – areas where Telecom has obvious strengths. Digital Ventures is all about delivering connected digital experiences, and we see the health sector as having significant potential for the introduction of new and commercially viable digital services with high growth potential such as Vigil.

“Vigil is led by internationally respected individuals, including Sir Ray Avery and chairman Keith Oliver. It has sound growth strategies and is well placed to respond to rapidly changing health sector dynamics. Our focus will be on helping to build momentum and scale behind this exciting and innovative New Zealand business.”

Dr Mary Quin, CEO of Callaghan Innovation, says “We are committed to helping grow emerging high-tech companies like Vigil which have the potential to generate significant domestic and export income. Vigil’s partnership with Telecom provides a platform to roll out nationwide biometric healthcare monitoring solutions and reduce healthcare costs.”

Vigil is actively targeting potential partnerships across the health sector, and already has partnerships in place with St John and Plunket NZ.

“Vigil’s integrated response and biometric technology will be trialed by St John in early 2014 to assess its potential to complement our existing technology and to benefit our more vulnerable clients,” says St John Commercial Director Peter Loveridge.

Plunket NZ CEO Jenny Prince says “We are excited to be working with Vigil to develop biometric baby monitoring applications”.

Comments and questions

awesome technology. Let's see what they can do with a good cash injection! Go NZ!

An increasingly crowded market with new start-ups and older more established players investing heavily.