US medical giant ResMed buys UCD spin-out in all-cash deal

6 Jul 2011

San Diego-headquartered medical device manufacturer ResMed has acquired UCD spin-out BiancaMed in an all-cash deal. Original investors including DFJ ePlanet Capital and Enterprise Ireland are believed to receive a significant premium on their €11m investment in the company.

BiancaMed is one of an emerging generation of young Irish medical device companies who are developing breakthrough technologies. It has developed a contactless, accurate device to measure sleep and breathing and combat deaths arising from the sleep disorder sleep apnea.

Dr Philip de Chazal, Dr Conor Hanley and Prof Conor Heneghan founded the company in 2003 to commercialise research that emerged from the UCD School of Electrical, Electronic and Mechanical Engineering. The company employs 29 people at the NovaUCD Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre.

ResMed is a major manufacturer of medical equipment for treating, diagnosing and managing sleep-disordered breathing and other repository disorders. The company is an original investor in BiancaMed, having provided seed investment in 2003.

While the value of the acquisition hasn’t been revealed, it is understood that investors including DFJ ePlanet Capital, Enterprise Ireland, Invest NI, Seventure Partners and UCD will receive a handsome premium on the €11m invested to date in BiancaMed.

A breakthrough in sleep therapy

A key result will be greater international distribution of BiancaMed’s contactless sleep monitoring device.

Hanley told BiancaMed will continue to trade under its own brand and that the acquisition will mean further job creation in Ireland down the line.

“The investment will enable us to build up our team to improve the technology and the capability of our product.”

According to Hanley, sleep apnea affects 4pc of the population and 90pc of people who have the disease aren’t diagnosed.

“Among people with congestive heart failure there is a high prevalence of sleep apnea. By monitoring breathing patterns, we are able able to detect deterioration and allow the clinician and doctor to assess and provide before-emergency admission.

“Sleep apnea is one of the leading causes for hospitalisation for people with heart conditions and that’s why ResMed, as one of the world’s leading providers of sleep therapy solutions, are extremely excited by the overlap in our respective technologies.”

At the heart of BiancaMed’s technology is a motion sensor that sits beside your bed and monitors your movement and heart rate.

“We have developed software packages to analyse that and see if you’re sleeping well and if you have the breathing issues. Because it so convenient, you just leave it there in the background and it remotely transmits data to clinicians or websites. ResMed and ourselves believe it will have global appeal,” Hanley said.

Photo, left to right: JC Kyrillos, president of ResMed Ventures and Initiatives Unit, and Dr Conor Hanley, CEO and co-founder, BiancaMed

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years