University Innovators and Private Venture Partners to Address Elder Care

December 11, 2009 — WellAWARE Systems, a company whose technological roots are at the University of Virginia, has announced that it will receive $7.5 million of growth capital from Valhalla Partners and .406 Ventures.

WellAWARE Systems develops in-home monitoring systems for older adults, which allows them to age in place. The growth capital will allow the company to better serve the important and rapidly growing senior care technology market, which is expected to reach $34 billion in sales by 2015.

The technology powering WellAWARE Systems was jointly developed by faculty and students at U.Va., including biomedical engineers and software developers, along with two of the country's largest providers of senior care, The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society and Volunteers of America. Robin Felder, U.Va. professor of pathology, directed the development of this technology.

"The elder care technology project is one of the most promising companies that I've launched, with great support from the U.Va. Patent Foundation," Felder said. "Multidisciplinary translational research involving many departments at U.Va. has resulted in a high success rate for commercialization."

Thomas C. Skalak, U.Va.'s vice president for research, lauded the capital investment in WellAWARE Systems as part of the University's growing effort to develop, incubate and bring to market innovative products and solutions.

"U.Va.'s deep talent pool and innovation capability are being recognized nationwide," he said. "We have welcomed the venture capital community as an essential partner in the University's mission of disseminating knowledge to benefit society. We applaud Valhalla Partners and .406 Ventures for their leadership in recognizing the importance of pushing University innovations into public use, particularly in this critical area of personalized medicine and elder care."

WellAWARE Systems' predecessor, Home Guardian, was a product of the T100 Alumni Mentoring Program – one of many University programs that support and nurture early stage technologies.

U.Va. is one of only nine universities in the country to receive a Coulter Foundation Translational Research award, which has brought $5 million to early stage biomedical innovations. The University just completed its inaugural Entrepreneurship Cup competition, during which business concepts from 70 student teams and six U.Va. schools vied for $35,000 in prize money. U.Va.'s Venture Summit brings U.Va. thought leaders together with potential investors from top venture capital firms across the nation. The second annual summit will be held in March.

"Through these efforts, we are building relationships with multiple stakeholders outside of University walls – venture capitalists, foundations and corporate partners," Skalak said.

Kevin Greene, a U.Va. alumnus who helped make the Valhalla partnership possible, said Skalak and the University are beginning an innovation revolution. "This transformation does not begin with an innovation strategy, but instead begins with the right leadership fostering the right culture, and that's just what U.Va. is doing," he said.

He noted that WellAWARE Systems is focused on a timely health care issue. "The American population is aging at unprecedented rates and health care costs continue to grow at unsustainable rates," he said. "We are looking forward to building a great company and most importantly, improving the lives of seniors around the world."

WellAWARE Systems has developed a broad set of monitoring, reporting and analytical capabilities to improve the lives of seniors. At the same time, WellAWARE provides value to professional care-giving organizations through improved efficiency and a more proactive approach to care delivery. The system has been deployed in both home- and community-based service settings as well as senior living facilities.

"The investments from Valhalla Partners and .406 Ventures affirm the value in our wellness monitoring solution and the growing demand for next-generation health care technologies," said Jeff Noce, president and CEO of WellAWARE Systems. "We are proud to be a part of this growing industry and with the investments from Valhalla Partners and .406 Ventures we now have the expertise, resources and influence to help us continue to build a great company and pioneer the evolution of the advanced senior care technology market."

About .406 Ventures

.406 Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm that invests in innovative information technology and services companies. It was founded in 2005 by Maria Cirino, Larry Begley and Liam Donohue, who had worked together for more than eight years founding, building and investing in more than a dozen successful IT and services businesses.

About Valhalla Partners
Valhalla Partners advises technology entrepreneurs in its quest to build world-class companies. Based in Vienna, Va., the firm's management team has made more than 120 investments over the past 20 years and produced almost $1 billion of investment proceeds with such firms as CareerBuilder.com.

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