U.Va.-UofM-UW Start-Up Announces NEA Venture Funding to Accelerate Energy-Efficient Wireless Technology

March 31, 2014

PsiKick, a company headquartered in Charlottesville and based on technology licensed from the University of Virginia, University of Michigan and University of Washington, announced a major financing milestone led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Osage University Partners and MINTS, a venture fund of the University of Michigan. This funding round will enable PsiKick to accelerate the development of the groundbreaking Ultra-Low-Power wireless sensing devices.  

These devices, the so-called “systems-on-chip” or SoC, are circuits capable of integrating all components of an electric system in one small chip. PsiKick’s Ultra-Low Power Wireless SoCs are operating at a fraction of the power capacity of other energy efficient circuit platforms. In fact, these devices function at such extreme energy efficiency that they are able to continuously and entirely be powered by harvested energy sources such as vibration, thermal gradients, solar power and radio frequency.

PsiKick’s technology was developed from the research on sub-threshold power designs for ultra-energy efficient circuits by Benton Calhoun, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at U.Va., David Wentzloff, assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Michigan and Brian Otis, associate professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington.

Calhoun, PsiKick co-founder and chief technology officer, and Wentzloff, co-founder and vice president for engineering, began their research collaboration while pursuing their respective Ph.D. at MIT.

“NEA brings tremendous depth of expertise at a key time in the company’s growth – they know the technology, they know the market, and they have a tremendous track record of building truly innovative industry leading companies,” said Brendan Richardson, PsiKick CEO and co-founder.

The company, founded in 2012 in Charlottesville, received its first seed funding from a group of local angel investors and has gone on to secure grant funding from the National Science Foundation, the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation and has won multiple contracts with various Department of Defense agencies.

“We are delighted to see a company with a partnership of this caliber emerging from the Charlottesville ecosystem,” said W. Mark Crowell, executive director of U.Va. Innovation and Associate Vice President for Research.

The current partnership with NEA, one of the nation’s top venture firms, will allow PsiKick to move its innovative portfolio to even higher ground: entirely self-powered wireless sensor networks. In addition, the funding will enable PsiKick to expand its sales, marketing and engineering teams.

“The U.Va. Licensing & Ventures Group is very pleased to have been part of this significant milestone for PsiKick,” said Michael P. Straightiff, director of the U.Va. Licensing & Ventures Group. “PsiKick’s path from university research program to venture-financed company represents exactly the type of expeditious trajectory toward a commercial endpoint that we like to see. While the funding flowing to PsiKick is critical to the company’s near-term progress, we are even more excited by the expertise and networks that the partnership with NEA will yield. We look forward to supporting PsiKick’s continued success.”

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About U.Va. Innovation
U.Va. Innovation maximizes the impact of University of Virginia research discoveries by creating opportunities for University innovators and partners to advance these discoveries to the global community.

About PsiKick
PsiKick Inc. is an ultra-low-power IC company with offices in Charlottesville, Va., and Ann Arbor, Mi., that utilizes sub-threshold processing and extremely low-power RF technology to build the world’s lowest power wireless systems-on-chip. The company was launched in 2012 by Benton Calhoun, David Wentzloff and Brendan Richardson, and was based on the ground-breaking work of Calhoun and Wentzloff at the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan, respectively, in low-power digital and analog circuit design. Additional Intellectual Property came from the lab of Professor Brian Otis at the University of Washington.  For more information please visit: www.psikick.com

Media Contact

Chiara Canzi

UVA Licensing and Ventures Group