Ottawa-based Clearwater Clinical, which is developing mobile and cloud-based data management solutions for the hearing health industry, has announced $6 million in funding.
The round was led by Toronto-based Whitecap Venture Partners, which said it will work closely with Clearwater on strategic initiatives, including product development, go-to market programs, and future financing strategy. BDC Capital Healthcare Venture Fund is also participating in the round. To date, the company has raised $9.5 million.
The company plans to use the funding to scale its flagship product, SHOEBOX Audiometry, which it calls the world’s first clinically-validated tablet-based audiometer. The tablet-based testing platform is integrated with the company’s cloud-based data management system, which allows its users to derive insights from clinical data and analytics. The company said that its customers are from diverse industries such as hearing care multinationals, industrial workplace testing, retail, and pharmaceuticals.
“Hearing loss impacts one-third of adults over 65, and two-thirds of the population over 80. The population over 65 is growing quickly. Starting in 2015, there were more people over 65 than under 15. This gap will continue to widen over the coming years. In fact, the population over 65 will double in the next 40 years. There is already a shortage of audiologists. As the aging population grows, the supply and demand will only get worse,” said Michael Weider, CEO of Clearwater Clinical.
Clearwater Clinical plans to use the funding to expand its service offerings, grow its overall sales presence throughout North America, and expand business initiatives into Europe.
“There are also some signs that hearing will begin to be a bigger issue for younger people too. Mobile technologies are now having an impact,” said Weider. “The incidence of hearing loss in teens is 30 percent higher versus 20 years ago. In summary, we need a more scalable and affordable way to test hearing.”
This company said that because the tech is highly mobile, it can increase early detection of hearing-related conditions. While Weider acknowledges that there are some challenges with entering the legacy healthcare space, there are some signs that the industry overall is becoming more open.
“The current audiology infrastructure is inadequate to meet the needs of the incoming wave of an aging population and hearing damage from ubiquitous personal devices,” said Amine Benmoussa, principal with the BDC Capital Healthcare Venture Fund. “The innovations incorporated into the SHOEBOX platform give Clearwater a clear advantage in this market and in potential new markets. Clearwater represents an excellent example of the Healthcare Fund’s investment strategy.”
“There are still pockets of resistance but by in large, healthcare is starting to embrace the cloud,” said Weider. “Healthcare institutions do assess their vendors’ privacy and security policies before moving forward. This requires us to maintain compliance with US, Canadian and international data protection standards.”