Japan’s Z-Works secures $3.6M series A to assist elderly caregivers by IoT monitoring


See the original story in Japanese.

Several news websites reported on Friday that Tokyo-based Z-Works, the Japanese startup developing IoT (Internet of Things) healthcare monitoring solutions especially for elderly care, has secured 400 million yen (about $3.6 million) in a series A round. Participating investors in this round are Spiral Ventures, Canon Marketing Japan (CMJ for short, TSE:8060), Infocom (TSE:4348), Lixil (TSE:5938), Kokusai Kogyo, plus the KSP Venture Investment Funds by Kanagawa Science Park. Coinciding with this funding, Spiral Ventures’ partner Hiroshi Oka, Infocom’s Open Innovation Center chief Yoichi Shirono and someone from CMJ will join Z-Works’ management board as external directors.

Z-Works has developed an IoT-based platform called Life Engine, aiming to reduce the burden of professionals and family members caring for elderly people, by leveraging a variety of sensors and a cloud-based platform to remotely watch over the elderly without possible invasion of their privacy. It intends to prevent the elderly from becoming bedridden, especially during the period between life expectancy and health expectancy — 9 years for men, 12 years for women on average each. Using a heart rate monitoring sensor, motion sensors and other sensors which are not required to be attached to the elderly people’s bodies so that they are unlikely to feel uncomfortable, the system can remotely monitor their heart rate, breath rate, getting out of bed, turning over in bed or taking an extra-long bathroom break so that caregivers will be notified when necessary or something unusual.

The company won Runways to Tech in Asia Singapore 2016 at Tokyo, subsequently became the runner-up at the Tech in Asia Singapore 2016 arena finals, as well as winning a pitch competition in Tokyo by Aging 2.0, a startup accelerating focused on elderly healthcare. Moreover, the team was selected for I-Challenge!, the ICT Innovation encouragement program hosted by the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications back in 2016.

Among the investors participating in this round, Z-Works has been partnering with CMJ to develop a system that enables remotely monitoring elderly people’s rooms, planning to deploy it into 115 care homes in Japan run by Japanese nursery care provider Sompo Care Next. Alongside this, CMJ will also set up a new department specifically focused on an elderly care business. Meanwhile, another investor, Kokusai Kogyo, is supporting Z-Works by offering an indoor location detection technology which works without GPS (global positioning system).

Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

Tatsuya Takahashi, co-CEO/co-founder of Z-Works, delivered their pitch at the Tech in Asia Singapore conference back in 2016.
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda