Internet of Things startup with Argonne roots gets $8 million 

OCTOBER 20-21st | SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Gary Conkright was working on the internet of things before it had such a catchy name.

He’s on his second IoT startup, PhysIQ, which he started 12 years ago. The Chicago health-technology company, which has offices in the Loop and Naperville, just raised another $8 million. Its software helps health care providers automatically monitor the vital signs of patients.

Bringing new technology—even software—to health care is a long slog. Since raising $5 million in 2014, PhysIQ has gotten FDA approval and it’s technology has been tested in a pilot program with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

PhysIQ uses an Android-based app that connects with Bluetooth-enabled patches and wearables that patients rely upon to monitor their heart rate, respiration and overall activity. Its algorithms track the information, automatically alerting medical personnel if there are significant changes.

“Nurses log in to see 100 patients, and they see them ranked by change from a baseline index,” Conkright says. “It’s a triage tool.”

He said the first pilot program with the VA to monitor patients being treated for congestive heart failure was successful and resulted in a second grant.

PhysIQ sprang from technology developed at Argonne National Laboratory in the mid-1990s to monitor nuclear plants. The original industrial-monitoring technology was spun out by the University of Chicago into a company called SmartSignal, originally headed by Conkright, which was bought in 2011 by General Electric.

Conkright, 63, licensed the technology a dozen years ago for use in the health care arena and started what became PhysIQ. Two years ago, it received FDA approval for its analytics platform. He anticipates a commercial launch later this year.

“We have four contracts to monitor patients involved with clinical studies,” Conkright said, declining to name them because of confidentiality agreements with the companies. “Two are pharma companies, and two are medical-device companies. They’re all companies you’ve heard of.”

PhysIQ has grown from 11 to 19 employees, primarily data scientists and coders. Conkright expects to reach 25 employees by the end of the year.

The latest investment was led by 4490 Ventures, an investment fund based in Madison, Wis., that includes Dan Malven, former CEO of AnalyteHealth in Chicago. Other backers include Vancouver-based Quark Ventures; Wasson Family Enterprise, a Chicago venture fund run by former Walgreens CEO Greg Wasson; and previous investor LionBird Venture Capital in Evanston. Dr. Stephen Ondra, a retired former chief medical officer at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Health Care Service Corp., also joined the company as part-time chief medical officer.

PhysIQ is one of several Chicago technology startups that are chasing opportunities related to helping health care providers better monitor or treat patients by using data analytics, cloud computing and other technologies.

“We saw the opportunity before personalized medicine came in vogue,” Conkright said. “The last few years, there’s been a shift that validates what we’ve thought for a while. You should have the same predictive insight for your yourself that you have on a car or a jet engine.”

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Source: Internet of Things startup with Argonne roots gets $8 million – John Pletz Technology Blog – Crain’s Chicago Business

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