Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald

Kiwi wearable tech gets big investment

Wearable tech company StretchSense has secured its first major international investor in listed Japanese firm Start Today.

Specific details of the investment were confidential, but StretchSense chief executive Ben O'Brien said the deal was "significant" for the company, adding that Start Today's business was a good fit.

"It makes really good sense for us because they are in the fashion world, and wearables at the moment is going through this big merger en mass with the fashion industry, because if you're going to wear it, it should look nice," O'Brien said.

"For StretchSense we see the step beyond that which is the disappearables where it's completely hidden," he said.

"In the meantime fashion is going to be a really big part of it, so for us I see a lot of good strategic synergies because they understand distribution, scale, fashion, things people wear and we understand the technology that can make the next generation of wearables possible."

The funds would be used to expand aggressively into the US, Europe and Asia O'Brien said, as well as setting up sales and support offices around the world for its international customers. It would also expand the capacity and capability of StretchSense's pilot plant and R&D facility.

The company has previously raised capital from local investment funds such as Flying Kiwi Angels and NZ Venture Investment Fund, including raising just over half a million dollars in 2014. O'Brien said the investment was necessary for the company to keep ahead of the competition.

"In the start up world, or at least in our world, its all about speed to market and aggression," O'Brien said.

StretchSense fabric sensor. SUPPLIED
StretchSense fabric sensor. SUPPLIED

"There's this enormous opportunity and the company that grows fastest will be able to capture the prize," he said.

"We've been working on raising capital and it's almost a continuous process, any entrepreneur in this world will tell you it pretty much never stops."

StretchSense manufactures soft stretchy sensors and generators for wearables, and are mainly used in sporting, virtual reality, animation, and healthcare applications. The company currently sells to over 200 customers in 28 countries.

- NZ Herald

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