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Cville-Based Company Gets Venture Funding to Accelerate Energy-E - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Cville-Based Company Gets Venture Funding to Accelerate Energy-Efficient Wireless Technology

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A Charlottesville startup based on technology licensed from the University of Virginia has received major funding to develop unique wireless devices.

PsiKick designs ultra-low power wireless chips that use harvested energy. The series of financing will allow the company to hire more staff, expand their engineering team, and produce more chips to take out to potential customers.

The first application the team wants to enable is wearable computing.

“These are things like Fitbit, smartwatches, wearable devices that you might be using to monitor your heart rate for instance. In the future, there's almost an unimaginable amount of applications that we can enable, where you can do infrastructure monitoring within embedded censors in the walls,” said Brendan Richardson, PsiKick CEO and cofounder.

The company was founded in 2012.

The technology behind these devices is also licensed through the University of Michigan and the University of Washington.

University of Virginia Press Release

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., March 31, 2014: PsiKick, a company headquartered in Charlottesville and based on technology licensed from the University of Virginia, University of Michigan and University of Washington, announced a major financing milestone led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Osage University Partners and MINTS, a venture fund of the University of Michigan. This funding round will enable PsiKick to accelerate the development of the groundbreaking Ultra-Low-Power wireless sensing devices.

These devices, the so-called systems-on-chip or SoC, are circuits capable of integrating all components of an electric system in one small chip. PsiKick’s Ultra-Low Power Wireless SoCs are operating at a fraction of the power capacity of other energy efficient circuit platforms. In fact, these devices function at such extreme energy efficiency that they are able to continuously and entirely be powered by harvested energy sources such as vibration, thermal gradients, solar power and radio frequency.

PsiKick’s technology was developed from the research on sub-threshold power designs for ultra-energy efficient circuits by Benton Calhoun, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at U.Va., David Wentzloff, assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Michigan and Brian Otis, associate professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington.

Calhoun, PsiKick co-founder and chief technology officer, and Wentzloff, co-founder and vice president for engineering, began their research collaboration while pursuing their respective Ph.D. at MIT.

NEA brings tremendous depth of expertise at a key time in the company’s growth, they know the technology, they know the market, and they have a tremendous track record of building truly innovative industry leading companies,” said Brendan Richardson, PsiKick CEO and co-founder.

The company, founded in 2012 in Charlottesville, received its first seed funding from a group of local angel investors and has gone on to secure grant funding from the National Science Foundation, the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation and has won multiple contracts with various Department of Defense agencies.

We are delighted to see a company with a partnership of this caliber emerging from the Charlottesville ecosystem, said W. Mark Crowell, executive director of U.Va. Innovation and Associate Vice President for Research.

The current partnership with NEA, one of the nation’s top venture firms, will allow PsiKick to move its innovative portfolio to even higher ground: entirely self-powered wireless sensor networks. In addition, the funding will enable PsiKick to expand its sales, marketing and engineering teams.

The U.Va. Licensing & Ventures Group is very pleased to have been part of this significant milestone for PsiKick,? said Michael P. Straightiff, director of the U.Va. Licensing & Ventures Group. ?PsiKick’s path from university research program to venture-financed company represents exactly the type of expeditious trajectory toward a commercial endpoint that we like to see. While the funding flowing to PsiKick is critical to the company’s near-term progress, we are even more excited by the expertise and networks that the partnership with NEA will yield.

We look forward to supporting PsiKick’s continued success.

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