Valencell's partnership with earphone manufacturer leads to $10.5M raise

By Dave Muoio
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Biometric sensor technology company Valencell announced this week that it has raised $10.5 million in Series E, bringing the company’s total funding to $35 million. The new backing primarily comes as the result of a strategic investment by hearing instrument and specialty earphone company Sonion a/s, with additional participation from prior investors including TDF Ventures, GII LLC, and WSJ Joshua Fund.

According to a statement, the new funding will be used to further improve the technology behind Valencell’s biometric sensors while expanding sales growth.

“Valencell has an established track record of innovating in wearable biometric sensors and this funding enables us to accelerate our investments in R&D, market development and go-to-market resources,” Michael Dering, CEO of Valencell, said in a statement. “In addition, with Sonion leading the investment round, Valencell gains a powerful strategic partner to bring new capabilities to serve the consumer hearables and hearing health markets. Valencell and Sonion share a strong vision and operating model for making major advancements in hearing health and hearable devices.”

The partnership between Valencell and Sonion was first announced last week, and in a statement was described as a focus on introducing the former’s biometric sensor technology into hearing devices and other wearables for the ear. With this, Sonion would be able to manufacture new devices that would be substantially smaller, less costly, and more power-efficient. These advances could also extend into sensors designed to measure continuous heart rate, blood pressure, and other medical or wellness areas, according to the companies.

"We see strong growth opportunities for this collaboration as we combine the Valencell technology and roadmap of exciting biometrics including more advanced medical monitoring functionalities with our 40 years-plus of experience and skills in micro-acoustics, micro-mechanics, and power management,” Jesper Ahlmann Funding Andersen, president and CEO of Sonion, said in a statement.

According to Valencell, its sensors have been used in over 30 unique wearables and hearables that have come to market. The company also made headlines in the mobile space back in 2016 when it sued Apple and Fitbit over alleged patent infringement regarding the heart rate sensor included in both companies’ wearable devices. The suits and resulting countersuits with Apple and Fitbit were still unresolved as of June 1 and Jan. 11, respectively.