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UF spinout with animal health tech wins Seedfunders’ pitch event at Synapse

Margie Manning

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VetGuardian provides contactless vital sign monitoring for animals.

Seedfunders, a St. Petersburg-based early stage investment firm, will invest $5,000 in VetGuardian, with technology designed to keep animals healthier and veterinarians safer.

VetGuardian won the Seedfunders pitch event at Synapse Converge, a three-day virtual gathering.

VetGuardian was one of three companies presenting to a panel of judges from around the state. Each company got about 10 minutes to pitch, then each judge asked followup questions.

VetGuardian provides contactless vital sign monitoring for animals. Using doppler radar-based technology, the company’s monitors can continuously detect pulse, respiration and temperature without any wires or contact sensors.

“Nothing touches the patient whatsoever,” said Scott Ijaz, who heads commercialization for the company.

The technology eliminates the need for a veterinarian to look at an animal’s chest,  or use a stethoscope or thermometer to measure an animal’s pulse, respiration rate or temperature. With VetGuardian, veterinarians are able to automate those tasks, saving more than 200 hours of work per year and more than $15,000 in annual labor costs, Ijaz said. It also prevents veterinarians from being bitten or scratched by a nervous or aggressive animal.

Early adopters are tech-savvy veterinarians. The company has paid pilots at 15 veterinary practices as well as a pilot underway at the San Diego Zoo. While the core technology is focused on companion animals, it works on exotic animals and there also are potential applications for humans, Ijaz said.

VetGuardian is a University of Florida spinoff with seven patents, Ijaz said. The company is raising $100,000 in a convertible note, and will use the proceeds to manufacture 20 units, make product upgrades and complete clinical trials.

There were two other companies in the pitch event.

One of them was Cope Notes, a Tampa company founded by musician and entrepreneur Johnny Crowder. Cope Notes uses technology to provide a mental health resource. The company provides daily affirmations through text messages to improve mental and emotional health.

The other company was Premier Virtual, a Boynton Beach company that provides a platform for virtual career fairs. Its software was used in the June 10 Tampa Bay Tech Career Expo.

Dave Chitester, co-founder and CEO of Seedfunders, was one of the judges for the pitch event. Other judges were Ruth Ross, a Seedfunders partner, Felice Gordo, CEO of eMerge Americas, and Jim Balaschak, manager of Beresford Ventures in Orlando.

More than 1,000 people registered for Synapse Converge, which took place Tuesday through Thursday. Recorded materials from the conference will be available through June 28.

Note: St. Pete Catalyst publisher Joe Hamilton is a partner in Seedfunders.

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