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Kiwi tech start-up spearheads global smart textile market

Kiwi tech start-up spearheads global smart textile market with major licensing deal

New Zealand smart fabric technology start-up, Footfalls & Heartbeats announced today the signing of an exclusive ongoing licensing deal with one of the world’s largest medical compression therapy companies, securing its foothold as a key emerging player in the smart textiles market.

The deal ensures significant ongoing funding for growth for the Kiwi company.

Headquartered in Bayreuth, Germany, Medi GmbH&Co.KG (Medi) is a leading global player in medical products with more than 60 years experience in compression technology. CircAid, a compression therapy company and 100% subsidiary of Medi, will initially implement Footfalls & Heartbeats technology into their compression bandaging products.

It is anticipated the Kiwi technology will allow medical practitioners and patients worldwide to more easily and reliably apply accurate compression levels when treating venous ulcers. Medi also plans to incorporate the Footfalls technology into additional products.

Footfalls & Heartbeats was founded by New Zealand scientist, Simon McMaster, who developed a proprietary process for manufacturing smart fabric. The technology uses micro-scale interactions with the textile to make the fabric itself the sensor, avoiding the need for wires and electronics at the site of sensing.

Smart textiles is a rapidly growing billion dollar market internationally and Footfalls & Heartbeats Managing Director, Roland Toder, says its technology heralds a new era in smart textile applications.

“Our technology can be applied to a wide variety of textiles but for compression bandaging, it enables both practitioner and patient to provide consistency with compression when bandaging venous ulcers, one of the most common problems affecting the aging population globally.

“A study recently published in the Journal of American Medical Association1 showed only 27% of venous ulcers were bandaged correctly by the wound care nurses surveyed. The remaining 73% either bandage too tightly which risks a tourniquet effect, or too loosely, which won’t adequately treat the ulcer, thus prolonging its impact.

“Compression standards vary globally. Our aim is to standardize these levels with our technology and Medi’s global outreach.”

“This licensing agreement accelerates our strong commitment to implement new smart textile technology into our medical compression therapy products, improving the ease of use and the efficacy of these products,” said Matthias Leitloff, Head of Product Management Medical, Medi.

The deal with Medi is positive news for Footfalls & Heartbeats first investors.

“For a science based company, Footfalls has gone from seed funding to a significant commercial deal in a relative short time. It has been greatly assisted through co-investment from the NZ Venture Investment Fund along with support from Callaghan and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise as well as scientific collaborations with AUT, said Roland Toder.”

Toder says the next steps for the company are to grow its licensing deals with key players in other markets. “We are readying to act on the interest shown in our technology by other global businesses and will soon seek funds to grow from this initial base.”


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