A startup that aims to shake up the $2.6 billion compression therapy market with computer-controlled garments said it is in talks to license its technology to apparel and medical device companies.
Recovery Force, based in the Indianapolis suburb of Fishers, IN, is in discussions with potential partners to develop a “multitude” of products using the technology, said the company’s founder and CEO, Matthew Wyatt. The investor-backed startup also has been open to a joint venture arrangement, whereby the company would operate effectively as a subsidiary of a global brand.
Recovery Force’s technology platform uses conductive fabric and microprocessors to stimulate blood flow in parts of the body, like the legs and back. It is targeting applications in athletics, biomedicine, and defense.
The 10-person company is at the pre-revenue stage and seems to have cast a wide net. It is collaborating with the University of Arizona’s Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance to develop a shoe that improves circulation for those with type 2 diabetes. Recovery Force also has a letter of intent with a respected athletic brand to tailor a product for the women’s apparel market, said Wyatt. He declined to identify any commercial partners.
What little the company has revealed publicly in terms of licensing its technology came in 2014, when it and Warsaw, IN-based Stryke Industries announced an agreement to jointly find military applications for the technology.
Wyatt told Xconomy that his company has agreed upon a collaborative research and development agreement with a U.S. Air Force Base to test applications in a fighter pilot G-suit.
Compression garments are now ubiquitous among athletes and in labor-intensive workplaces for their ability to improve blood flow and thus reduce swelling and cramping. More robust versions, some using compressed air, are used in hospital settings to prevent blot clots.
It was observing his father’s struggles with compression cuffs after knee surgery that inspired Wyatt and his team of engineers to find a better solution. They harnessed characteristics of materials that, when excited by a lithium-ion battery, cause contractions. The technology is known as SMART, short for Shape Memory Alloy Recovery Technology.
Recovery Force filed patents in 2012, for which USPTO action is expected in April, Wyatt said. Also next month the company expects to submit its 510(k) application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to obtain clearance to market its device.
Wyatt declined to quantify the potential revenue potential from a joint venture or licensing the technology to manufacturers. These are likely to be the primary sources of revenue for Recovery Force.
The compression therapy market worldwide amounted to about $2.6 billion in 2014, according to San Francisco-based Grand View Research. That annual market is expected to hit $4 billion by the end of 2023, according to a study released in January by Albany, NY-based Transparency Market Research.
But Recovery Force may find itself licensing its technology beyond the traditional compression therapy market. Spine surgeon Kevin Macadaeg, of Indiana Spine Group, said technology to improve blood flow and reduce swelling and fatigue could be useful in everything from shoes to ski boots to gloves.
Macadaeg, who is an advisor to Recovery Force, sees the potential to reduce the likelihood of dangerous conditions such as deep vein thrombosis experienced not only by hospital patients but by those who spend long hours on an airplane or behind the wheel of a semi-truck.
That’s to say nothing of the need to find something better than pneumatic compression devices used in hospitals.
“The big problem with these is that they’re very cumbersome. Once you have those on you’re not going to go anyplace,” Macadaeg said. “Compliance is awful. It actually discourages the patient to get up and move.”
The potential for Recovery Force’s technology was recognized early on, helping Wyatt raise $2.2 million in 2014, mostly from angel investors.
A second round of equity funding last year netted about $3.5 million. “These funds are being used to further innovation, broaden our intellectual property portfolio, and take the necessary time needed to formalize a partnership,” said Wyatt.