Startup Gets First Aid From Revamped West Health Institute

Xconomy San Diego — 

San Diego’s West Health Institute has enrolled the first company in its new startup incubator, a move that advances wireless fetal monitoring technology developed in-house when the nonprofit was known as the West Wireless Health Institute.

The institute says it is licensing its Sense4Baby technology to the startup, also called Sense4Baby. The institute says the fetal sensor, radio crystals, wireless chip, software and other technologies were developed in-house to get “a more cost-effective model of care for high-risk pregnancies.”

Sense4Baby also is getting “significant” venture funding from the West Health Investment Fund, which is allied with the institute but technically not part of it. The amount of funding was not disclosed.

The Sense4Baby deal marks a re-start of the institute’s core mission on technology innovation and commercialization, following a reorganization that broadened its focus beyond wireless health and delineated its roles in health policy and tech development. Telemarketing billionaires Gary and Mary West founded the nonprofit institute in early 2009, ultimately committing $100 million from their family foundation. The Wests also founded the West Health Investment Fund as a separate, for-profit organization to provide funding for  innovative technologies that hold the promise of reducing healthcare costs.

“The West Health Institute exists to develop innovations that will lower the costs of health care,” Rob Matthews, chief technology officer, said in a statement released by the institute. “Sense4Baby has been designed to enable a new model of care that can potentially bring needed care to the expectant mother at a remote clinical setting, as opposed to requiring her to go through the frequent travel and expense of visiting a doctor at a central hospital.”

Last week, the West Health Investment Fund said it had participated in recent venture deals for two startup companies with innovative technologies that could lower the cost of healthcare. Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.

One of the startups to receive financing is GlySens, a San Diego startup developing an implantable, long-term continuous glucose-monitoring sensor that would be used to wirelessly track the glucose levels of diabetics. The other recipient is RxAnte, a McLean, VA-based company developing an innovative approach for ensuring that patients take their prescribed medications.