Fitbit invests $6M in glucose monitoring startup Sano

By Laura Lovett
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Fitbit has recently invested $6 million in San Fransisco-based Sano, a company developing a mobile app and sensor that will allow users to continuously monitor blood glucose levels, multiple publications have confirmed. 

"This fits into our strategy of looking beyond the device and thinking more about (health) solutions,” Fitbit CEO James Park told CNBC. "I think the complete solution comes in the form of having some monitoring solution that is coupled with a display, and a wearable that can give you the interventions at the right moment.”

Sano has developed a biometric sensor that is contained in a small patch. Though minimally invasive, the company claims the sensor is a “completely painless” way to continuously monitor the user’s glucose levels. The product also aims to help users understand the impact of their dietary decisions on their metabolism and gives users food suggestions, as well as exercise suggestions. 

The product has not yet hit the market but the company’s webpage claims the product is “totally” affordable. 

Sano’s webpage does not specifically mention diabetes, and in the past it has marketed itself as a tool for gathering “metabolic insight” for people who do not have diabetes—which would let it skirt more stringent FDA clearance requirements. However, this could be a strategic investment for Fitbit that might help it jump into the diabetes management market. 

Sano launched in 2011 as part of an early Rock Health’s accelerator program. Currently it has a total of $20.65 million in funding, according to Crunchbase, including a $10 million round in June 2015. Interestingly, The company's team includes alums from Apple, Google, Samsung, and Fitbit.

This isn’t the first time Fitbit has dabbled with CGM products. In September, Fitbit announced a partnership with Dexcom with the intention of bringing data from Dexcom’s CGM directly to the display of Fitbit’s upcoming Ionic smartwatch. 

Nor is Fitbit the only wearable maker jumping into the CGM game. In April reports about Apple developing a CGM product leaked. CNBC’s Christina Farr, reported that Apple has a small office team dedicated to diabetes research that’s been working for about five years. However, as of today a noninvasive CGM has yet to hit the market, despite the efforts of tech giants like Google and Apple.