GE buys Monica for wireless fetal monitoring technology

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Through its acquisition of Monica Healthcare, GE Healthcare is adding a single-use, fetal-monitoring patch to its maternal-infant care division.

GE Healthcare has bought wireless fetal monitoring business Monica Healthcare. The deal sees GE add a wearable patch that monitors maternal heart rate, fetal heart rate and uterine activity to the portfolio of its maternal-infant care unit.

Monica, a spinout from the University of Nottingham in England, has distributed its Novii wireless patch system in North America through GE since 2015. That gave GE a close look at the progress of Monica’s latest pitch for the labor and delivery health monitoring market. And, having seen use of Monica’s technology expand to 1,000 sites, GE has decided to acquire the company and its digital health capabilities.

“Through this acquisition, we will combine the incredible expertise and mobile-digital innovation from the Monica team with GE Healthcare’s longstanding industry leadership and customer focus, all with the goal of bettering maternal and infant care for patients worldwide,” Tammy Noll, general manager of GE’s maternal-infant care division, said in a statement.

The centerpiece of Monica’s offering is Novii. This is a single-use adhesive patch for monitoring the heart rate of the mother and fetus, plus uterine activity. The patch includes an ECG electrode that gathers signals from the skin and sends them to a reusable, magnetically-attached data processing and transmission device. Data filtered, digitized and processed by the reusable device are sent via bluetooth to an interface that connects to the fetal monitor.

Monica’s introduction of Novii built on its development of AN24, which featured five electrodes connected by wires. For Novii, the electrodes and wires were replaced by a single patch, making it easier for users to set up the monitoring system. 

GE hasn’t revealed how much it paid for Monica, but there is reason to believe it was a small sum for a company of its size. Catapult Ventures, which led every round in Monica since its inception, said it generated a 3.5 times return on the sale to GE. Monica raised $1.1 million last year, $2.5 million in 2015 and $1.5 million in 2009, plus earlier rounds of undisclosed size.

Last year, Monica began working with Philips to build its signal acquisition technology into its partner’s Avalon fetal monitoring platform.