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Wednesday, Feb 8, 2023
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STARTUPS & INNOVATIONS

FINANCING

Defense-focused engineering firm HyperKelp Inc. of San Clemente recently won a $120,000 investment as part of its acceptance into the Techstars Space Accelerator program for tech startups.

The company was 1 of 10 companies selected for the annual program, which aims to generate dual-use frontier technologies with a focus on autonomy and security.

The accelerator is hosted in partnership with industry leaders Arrow Electronics, SAIC, Lockheed Martin, Israel Aerospace Industries North America and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

HyperKelp has partnered with Swift Engineering Inc. to build buoys that collect, process and transmit data from the maritime layer for security purposes. The payload platforms could serve as the first line of defense against hypersonic missile threats, according to the company.

Graeme Rae, who founded the marine systems group at Swift Engineering, launched the new startup in April. Rae has a Ph.D. in ocean engineering and was previously a tidal data consultant at Nixon. He continues to offer guidance as a scientific consultant for Huntington Beach’s Surfline.

Capton Inc., a Newport Beach-based liquor management system developer, raised $3.3 million in a new round of financing, regulatory filings show.

The company makes a pour spout with an RFID chip that automatically transmits data to a receiver, which connects to the company’s cloud-based software system and produces various reports and alerts.

An initial install of 100 pour spouts runs about $7,000, plus an additional annual fee for maintenance and software services.

The system was originally developed in 2003 to help customers manage and track over-pouring drinks, giveaways or even product stealing. Bars tend to suffer a 15% to 20% profit loss due to such events, market research shows.

In addition, the company’s pour data can be integrated with point of system and inventory data to help customers track bartender performance and bottle usage, and ultimately, lower costs of business.

Current customers include Irvine-based Sunstone Hotel Investors (NYSE: SHO), Hilton, Hyatt and Westin, among others.

PARTNERSHIPS

The University of California, San Francisco, has rolled out Virtual Dental Care Inc.’s teledentistry platform to enhance care for overlooked populations.

The company’s Teledentix program will support a program that aims to streamline dental-medical integration, while increasing support for children with special health needs and rural populations that often lack access to near-site care.

The collaboration was made possible through a Health Resources Services Administration grant provided to the university’s School of Dentistry last month.

Teledentix, profiled in the June 21 print edition of the Business Journal, helps dental offices mange patient flow, such as multi-location scheduling, digital consent forms, dental screenings and referral management. It also facilitates secure record-sharing between dentists, patients, caregivers and other healthcare professionals, and makes communication available via text, chat and video.

“It’s rare for any dental software to support the virtual dental home model but Teledentix was built for it and we’re very excited to improve the oral health of children in these underserved populations,” Ray Stewart, division chair of pediatric dentistry at UCSF, said in a statement.

CEO Richard Lee and COO Bill Jackson launched Virtual Dental Care to improve oral care for children in 2016. The business partners previously led Newport Beach-based dental management software maker Planet DDS.

Learn & Earn, an educational micro-investment app created by Newport Beach-based Blast, has partnered with New York-based tech investment firm ARK Invest.

ARK Invest, founded by Cathie Wood, has over $29 billion in assets under management and will sponsor lessons on energy storage, genomic sequencing, artificial intelligence, blockchain technology and robotics.

“By partnering with Learn & Earn, ARK hopes to prepare young people to stay of the right side of change and capitalize on the long-term growth opportunities that innovation is creating,” Wood said in a statement.

Learn & Earn, which launched late last year, offers snack-size courses to high school students on a range of topics such as financial literacy, coding and storytelling. Students then invest their earnings in an investment account by selecting ETFs and up to 10 separate large cap stocks such as Apple and Tesla.

The educational platform is currently rolling out through national nonprofit Junior Achievement and its network of 5 million students. Additional sponsors include cryptocurrency exchange platform Gemini, founded by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, and fashion model Karlie Kloss’s Kode with Klossy.

Blast, a game-savings app developer started by Acorns co-founder Walter Cruttenden, raised a $4 million round of financing in mid-2020.

NEW HIRES

CathWorks Ltd. of Aliso Viejo late last month brought on Ramin Mousavi as chief executive.  

Mousavi was most recently vice president of patient monitoring at Baxter International Inc. He previously served as chief marketing officer at CathWorks and spent nearly a decade in sales and marketing roles at Irvine’s Edwards Lifesciences Corp.

CathWorks is the developer of the FFRangio system, an FDA-cleared system that provides x-ray imaging of the coronary artery branch and applies machine learning and artificial intelligence to help doctors identify coronary issues in a noninvasive manner.

“It’s rare to get an opportunity to lead a company with great talent, technology” as well as “investors and strategic partners, who already know you and trust you,” Mousavi said of returning to CathWorks in his new role.

Mousavi succeeds Jim Corbett, who oversaw multiple capital raises from Deerfield Management and others since late 2017.

CathWorks raised a $30 million Series D round of financing in January.

The firm, with nearly 30 local employees, is well-positioned to expand in the U.S., Europe and Japan with recent product enhancements that cut the overall procedure time by about 40%. Now, most cases can be completed in under four minutes (including user input and analysis time), which is much less time than the traditional invasive wire-based approach currently in use, which can often take 10 to 15 minutes.

He added, “We are bringing a disruptive technology that replaces something in the market, but we have all the right elements to succeed.”

Intellivision Entertainment LLC, an Irvine-based home video game maker, named Chuck LaBella as vice president of entertainment acquisition.

He was most recently a talent consultant at Warner Horizon Television, Fox, HBOMax and ABC Television Network, among other roles. He was previously vice president of talent development at NBC Universal.

LaBella’s “knowledge and experience will go a long way for adding even more incredible partnerships, licenses, influencers and relationships to our ever-growing line of products for Amico,” Chief Executive Tommy Tallarico said.

Tallarico and LaBella grew up with the original Intellivision video game console, which was started by El Segundo-based Mattel in the late 1970s, but its popularity was short-lived.

The new startup was formed in 2018 after acquiring name rights and the intellectual property from some of the original company’s employees.  

For more information on Intellivision, see page 22.

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