PixelOptics snags $45M investment

Roanoke, VA-based PixelOptics, the maker of emPower!, the world's first electronic focusing eyeglasses, has raised $45 million in financing in a round led by Safeguard Scientifics. The financing is comprised of $35 million equity investment and $10 million venture debt. Other participants in the round include Delphi Ventures, The Carlyle Group, Longitude Capital and Stark Investments. Horizon Technology Finance provided the venture debt funding. In addition, Gary Kurtzman, managing director in the Life Sciences Group at Safeguard, and Stephen Zarrilli, senior VP and CFO at Safeguard, will be joining PixelOptics' board of directors.

Ron Blum, PixelOptics' president and CEO, expressed gratitude for the funding. "This will now allow us to grow Pixel properly as well as provide the company with the needed capital to support an ambitious launch for emPower!," Blum said in a statement. "We anticipate launching emPower! across North America and beginning a regional rollout in Europe within the next 12 months. Following this, we expect to start selling emPower! in Asia within 24 months."

PixelOptics, which was founded in 2005 as the world's first composite lens company, launched emPower! at a trade show this winter to great fanfare. The glasses allow adults with presbyopia, a form of farsightedness, to shift focus from long distance to close up merely by moving their heads, the Roanoke Times notes. The company says in a statement that the glasses "will be available in numerous high fashion styles, shapes, sizes and colors beginning this spring." The glasses have a recommended retail price of about $1,200.

Currently, PixelOptics employs 54, but expects to grow to 111 employees by year's end, many of whom will be based in Roanoke, according to the Roanoke Times.

Nearly 1.8 billion people worldwide suffer from presbyopia, and current treatment options include corrective lenses, multifocal contacts and surgery. Progressive addition lenses, one of the most common treatments for presbyopia, generate an estimated $13 billion per year on more than 50 million pairs sold, Safeguard notes in a statement.

- get the PixelOptics release
- check out the Safeguard statement
- see the Roanoke Times report