Needle-free CGM startup exits stealth with new funding

Movano's smartwatch-like wearable uses radio frequency technology to measure blood glucose without breaking the skin.
By Dave Muoio
09:06 am
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This morning continuous glucose monitor (CGM) startup Movano Inc. exited stealth with the news of $10 million bridge funding round headed by Tri-Valley Ventures. Taken alongside its prior investments, the company said it has now raised $27 million since its founding in 2018.

WHAT THEY DO

Movano is developing a connected CGM wearable that doesn't require the user to break the skin with a needle or prick. Rather, the company uses an onboard radio frequency-powered sensor, which it combines with a cloud-based network app and proprietary machine learning algorithms.

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Through that app, the tool will display real-time data, such as trending lines and time-in-range counts, to the user, as well as to providers or caregivers with whom they choose to share the data.

“There’s a considerable disconnect between the demand for an inconspicuous and inexpensive glucose measurement solution and what’s on the market. Today, people with diabetes have two options to get a glucose reading – either prick their finger daily or wear an expensive, disposable patch,” Michael Leabman, founder and CEO of Movano, said in a statement. “We plan to bridge this gap, so that measuring your glucose becomes as simple as glancing at your wrist, whether you’re a person with diabetes, pre-diabetes or a part of the greater wellness community.  We’re going to break down the current cost, usability and accessibility barriers with CGMs so that anyone can manage their glucose levels with confidence and in a way that best suits their lifestyle.”

WHAT IT'S FOR

Movano said in its announcement that its newest funds will help finalize production silicon and kick-start preparations for initial user trials.

MARKET SNAPSHOT

The promise of wireless, non-invasive CGMs has loomed over digital health for years. Echo Therapeutics was an early name in the space, which promised an adhered transdermal CGM.

Verily and Novartis shelved a high-profile project that would have built glucose-sensing capabilities into a smart contact lens, while other projects have described tear-based sensors that sit on the lower eyelid and a contact lens that carries a tiny LED light indicating high glucose. Some researchers have also looked to sweat, focusing on adhesive sensor patches or glucose-sensing "tattoos."

In terms of "minimally invasive" CGM options, San Diego-based Biolinq's approach uses a skin-applied sensor to analyze interstitial fluid, while Abbott's Freestyle Libre and Freestyle Libre 2 forego fingersticks in favor of a tiny insertable sensor.

ON THE RECORD

“What makes a digital health tool effective is its ability to keep consumers engaged without disrupting their routine and a design that makes the wearer feel like a person, not a patient,” Greg Hitchan, managing partner of Tri-Valley Ventures, said in a statement. “What resonated with us about Movano is its consumer-centric approach to glucose management. Its solution, which can be disguised as a watch, enables users to get a reading no matter where they are. With the potential to improve the quality of life for so many people, we see a bright future for Movano.”

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