Slater Technology Fund Invests in Providence-Based Developer of Novel Hearing Device
Bionica Developing New Personal Communication System for the Hearing-Impaired
Providence, R.I., June 26, 2007 – Slater Technology Fund announced today that it has committed $250,000 in seed funding to Bionica Corporation, a startup company based in Providence, RI. The company will use the investment for increased research and development of its innovative personal communication system for the hearing-impaired.
According to industry research, five million Americans struggle with the daily problems associated with hearing aids, and another 25 million experience hearing loss but do not wear a hearing aid. Bionica’s personal communication system, Clio, is designed to downplay the stigma attached to conventional hearing aids and to improve the overall performance of hearing aid systems as compared to current models. The device is inspired by modern consumer electronics and is extremely user friendly. The technology underlying the Clio system benefits greatly from dramatic advances in communication platforms that have been introduced in recent years.
Clio will work equally well in multiple hearing environments, including the car, theater, and restaurant. Proprietary software will separate speech from noise and contain several different hearing "programs" for various environments, allowing users to interact with the many sounds they encounter over the course of the day. Bionica looks to release Clio by 2008.
Bionica was founded in 2005 as a spin-off of Design Lab, Inc., a Providence-based industrial design firm established in 1978. Co-founders of Bionica include Design Lab principals Ralph Beckman and Kipp Bradford.
The management team at Bionica is led by CEO Peter Hahn, a 25-year healthcare industry veteran and former president of U.S. operations for Oticon, the third-largest hearing aid company in the world. Prior to Oticon, Hahn served as president of diabetes care joint-venture Squibb-Novo, based in Princeton, NJ. Hahn has also served as COO at both QualityMetric, based in Lincoln, RI and Domain Pharma, based in Cambridge, MA. Co-founder and CTO Ralph Beckman is the founder and former president of Providence-based Design Lab, Inc. and Aeolian Kinetics, Inc., and has served as a technical policy consultant to NASA, DOE and USAID. A Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) graduate, he also taught architecture and industrial design at RISD and Brown University. Co-founder and Vice President of Product Development Kipp Bradford, at Design Lab for more than a decade, was vice president of engineering his last four years with the company, when he co-invented and developed numerous electronic products for clients such as Hasbro and Mattel. He also served as co-founder and chief scientist at dental diagnostic startup Q-Labs and co-founder of Dewhurst Solution, LLC. Bradford has a Sc.B. and Sc.M in bioengineering from Brown University.
"Bionica is very pleased to have received the support of the Slater Technology Fund," said Hahn. "Not only do we appreciate the financial aspect of Slater’s commitment, but we also know that Slater will provide our young company with important business contacts within the Rhode Island community."
"The Bionica team represents an outstanding combination of design, engineering and management talent," said Richard G. Horan, managing director of the Slater Technology Fund, "ideally-suited to the challenge of bringing to market a fundamentally new technology for the hearing impaired. With the leadership and innovative technology being brought to bear, and the size of the market opportunity being addressed, we believe that the company has the potential to become a substantial business enterprise in the years to come."
About Slater Technology Fund
The Slater Technology Fund supports the development of emerging industries with potential for significant long-term growth within the State of Rhode Island. Slater focuses its resources on the support of entrepreneurs who have the vision, leadership and commitment to build substantial commercial enterprises. Slater typically invests at the inception stage in the development of a new venture, often based upon ideas and technologies originating in academic institutions and/or government research laboratories located within the region. In most cases, investments are premised upon the possibility of raising substantial follow-on financing, from venture capital investors or from strategic partners, with a view toward accelerating the generation of significant numbers of high-value, high-wage jobs over the intermediate to longer-term. For more information, visit www.slaterfund.com.
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