The Idea Fund of La Crosse I, LP has acquired for $500,000 the SwallowSTRONG medical device from Swallow Solutions, of Madison.
The Idea Fund created a new portfolio company to acquire the device. That company, called Swallow Therapeutics, will be based in La Crosse. This transaction does not impact Swallow Solutions’s remaining business operations.
“We’re excited to bring this cutting-edge healthcare company to La Crosse, where we believe it will have the right financial support, ecosystem and mentoring to reach its full potential,” said Jonathon Horne, Managing Director at Idea Fund of La Crosse.
The SwallowSTRONG device treats dysphagia, a disorder that involves difficulty swallowing and is estimated to impact as many as 20 million people in the U.S. Traditional dysphagia treatment involves patients using new swallowing techniques such as repositioning the head and body while swallowing, strengthening exercises, esophageal dilation and a thickened liquid diet. Severe cases require feeding tubes and in-patient care. Dysphagia is a leading cause of aspiration pneumonia, which can lead to bacteremia, lung abscesses, respiratory failure and death.
SwallowSTRONG is designed to make rehab more efficient and effective for both the patient and the speech language pathologist. A custom-molded mouthpiece and easy-to-use software work together to help patients perform a regimen that improves tongue strength. The treatment is noninvasive and can be done from a patient’s home. Data from pilot studies has shown that patients who use the device have fewer hospital readmissions and a lower number of pneumonia diagnoses.
“SwallowSTRONG has great potential for growth and there’s no better place for a company like this to grow than La Crosse,” said Don Weber, who in 1999 founded Logistics Health Inc., a provider of health care services for public and private sector clients. LHI was acquired in 2011 by UnitedHealthGroup and now has over 2,000 employees in La Crosse.
“The large number of healthcare organizations in our region, anchored by Gundersen Health System and Mayo Clinic, and the strong healthcare talent in this area, will help support this emerging company as it continues on its path to success.”
The Idea Fund is currently managing Swallow Therapeutics while doing a search for a CEO, who would be based in La Crosse. The company expects to hire more employees as it grows.
The Idea Fund of La Crosse was established in 2016 to invest in early-stage startup companies and currently has $13mm under management. The fund targets Wisconsin-based startups that are either pre-revenue or early-stage revenue, diversified across sectors. The fund seeks to partner with highly skilled founders, and provides support from initial investment through company exit. Swallow Therapeutics is the first investment in the Idea Fund portfolio headquartered in La Crosse.
For more information about Swallow Therapeutics and the SwallowSTRONG device go to www.swallow-strong.com
For more information about the Idea Fund of La Crosse go to www.ideafundvc.com