The remote medical sensing company, Vigil Monitoring, is working to launch the first version of its product in New Zealand by the end of the year.
“We expect the first iteration of our solution to be commercially marketed by the end of the year. This first iteration will have the capability for biometrics, but the commercial rollout perhaps won’t be biometrics. It will be activity related,” says Alan Brannigan, CEO and executive director of the company.
Vigil, started in 2012 by Sir Ray Avery and currently with 14 full time employees, has been doing proof-of-concepts with the solution in Auckland for some time. According to Brannigan, the final product that becomes available to the customer could be a combination of things, depending on the partner.
“It can be a device only, it can be a device with a range of services that you or the family or the care provider could log into. I am not prepared to say what our first partners might want right now. Our initial focus is aged care and healthcare providers as partners for the most part,” he says.
The firm, which boasts an amalgamation of skill sets across sensing technology, cloud and analytics and remote monitoring, has become capable of building more functionality into its solution sets than originally thought of.
“We still do have a device that can measure biometrics and we have a gateway that can take that and do some, what we call, local analytics. For things that are emergency related, like a fall, for which a call needs to be sent out to an ambulance call centre, the box itself can make it happen. It does not go through to the internet because there are a lot of issues with the internet and connections.
“But now it is becoming more about connecting a multitude of devices, and not just about biometric devices but anything that provides a narrative for the patient at home. This could include things like temperature and humidity in an environment; anything that might suggest a pattern of change and what that might mean for the patient based on their condition and what they are going through. We are going beyond the objective of the biometrics, and trying to provide a more subjective story around the patient’s world and for those close to them. It is more a social rather than clinical context now,” says Brannigan.
Brannigan agrees that such capability includes not just accounting for numerous sensors in any client environment, but that it also becomes a big data play, which would see the firm tapping into a variety of services. Vigil’s solution will come with the capability to be ‘layered on to’ to allow for further services to be added, as well as ability to be plugged-into other solutions for integration.
While so far the challenges facing the firm had been related to understanding the healthcare ecosystem and focusing resources to a solution and not getting distracted from the goal, the challenges that lie ahead will be related to delivering on the solution.
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“Our challenges now is about getting the first product out, getting it stable and making sure we have operations and customer support elements in place. It is a typical start-up phase. It is one thing getting a product developed and getting a buyer, but what happens when it is out there in the market, how do you support and scale?
“We will be adding people and partners working up to the launch. We have a HR roadmap and, if the landscape does not change, we would look to have around 20 full time employees by launch,” says Brannigan.
The company will be looking for operations and sales and marketing staff to join its team, since they are ‘tech-heavy right now.’
Vigil, which raised $1.5 million from private investors in its first round of funding, had an additional cash infusion when Spark Ventures (previously Telecom Digital Ventures) bought 40 per cent of the firm with an investment of $5 million. The company also received a grant from Callaghan Innovation.
“Our cash flow is very healthy and we are not looking for a series C funding. It is pretty rare for a NZ start-up at this stage and we understand how lucky we are. With the product launch at the end of the year, we expect to be in the black by next year,” says Brannigan.
Vigil is also exploring offshore markets, including Australia and Asia, but Brannigan states that they would look to launch in the NZ market, and stabilise in the country, before venturing into global markets.