St. John’s-based BreatheSuite, whose technology helps people to use inhalers properly, has closed a $1.2 million equity financing round, led by Venture NL, the fund overseen by Pelorus Venture Capital.

The company issued a press release on Thursday announcing its second round, which follows on from a $550,000 round in October 2019, which was also led by Venture NL. The investors in the current round include St. John’s-based Killick Capital, which is investing in the company for the first time, and other private investors.

The company said it raised the money after it was able to demonstrate sales growth in 2020, especially through partnerships with several organizations in the U.S.

"Amidst all of its challenges, 2020 was a phenomenal year for BreatheSuite.” said CEO Brett Vokey in a statement. “We were able to expand our team, secure international partnerships to offer devices to patients, and complete invaluable research both within Canada and the United States.”

Founded in 2018, BreatheSuite has developed software and hardware that aim to correct the improper use of inhalers. Its goal is to improve treatment for the millions of people who suffer from asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, 90 percent of whom are said to use their inhalers improperly.

The device turns an inhaler into a smart device to train people how to use it properly and monitor how they use it over time. The company said it will use the investment to develop new inhaler add-on products, and continue rollout to patients across North America.

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“It's been an incredibly exciting few months for the Newfoundland and Labrador tech sector and this announcement is the perfect start to the New Year,” said Venture NL Director Chris Moyer. “Brett's passion and drive inspired us to get involved back in 2018 and since then he and the company have excelled."

Before the pandemic hit, Vokey and some colleagues were able to attend conferences in the U.S., which sparked connections with groups that support respiratory health, such as asthma coalitions and asthma centres. Therefore, before the economy shut down, the company was able to make valuable relationships that led to testing programs later in the year.

Vokey said in an interview that the team – which now amounts to 14 people – was able to attend virtual conferences during the pandemic and continue to extend its network. That said, he’s looking forward to life returning to normal, hopefully later this year, and getting back to selling at in-person conventions.

One initiative the company is planning for the coming year is posting a page on its website that will allow people in Newfoundland and Labrador to use the product outside a clinic. They can sign up online for private testing with the BreatheSuite system.

BreatheSuite’s product can now be used on metered dose inhalers, which account for about 60 percent of the inhaler market. The company intends to use the recent investment to develop the product so it can be used on the rest of the inhaler market.

“This investment is a testament to the progress we've made during a year that brought unprecedented change,” said Vokey. “We’re hopeful that the increased adoption of digital health technologies will continue in the future, setting a new standard for virtual healthcare.”