Smart Skin Technologies, the Fredericton company commercializing a thin material that relays information to a computer when it senses pressure, has closed a round of funding from a group of blue-chip New Brunswick investors.
Though he declined to name his new backers or say how much they invested, CEO Kumaran Thillainadarajah said they were early-stage investors in Radian6, the social media analysis company that sold out for $370 million to Salesforce.com last year.
“We actually raised 33 percent more than our target,” said Thillainadarajah. “We literally couldn’t say no to these people. I think it’s a group of people who will add a lot of value in the future.”
Thillainadarajah, who does not believe in selling equity unless it’s necessary, said one bonus of the fund-raising is it was completed quickly, so management time was not wasted courting potential investors. He added it was the company’s largest funding to date. As of last September, the company had raised $125,000 -- $50,000 from the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation and $75,000 from the Community Business Development Corporation. It has also raised more than $500,000 in non-dilutive funding.
With the money in the bank, Smart Skin is now rolling out two applications that it feels are the best way to commercialize its technology.
The Smart Skin product is ideal for testing an athlete’s grip, which is essential in so many sports. With that in mind, the company has designed a system that assesses a golfer’s grip through his swing. It is developing a prototype putter than can produce a chart of the hand pressure throughout the swing, and allow instructors to correct bad habits. The product should be ready by July, and Smart Skin has teamed up with Terry Hashimoto, one of Canada’s leading golf entrepreneurs, who will try to find a suitable manufacturer that could license the product.
The second application is using smart skin to test pressure points in packaging to make sure containers don’t burst during manufacture or transportation. The idea is to wrap a container in smart skin and then send it through the production line or shipping procedure. It can then monitor the strength and duration of pressure on the container throughout the process, and determine when the item is most vulnerable.
What pain does that solve? If a pickle jar breaks on a conveyor belt, for example, the whole production line may have to be shut down, which is expensive for the company. If a number of them break during shipment, the cost of the wastage could add up.