FrontEdge Technology Inc. raised $2.7 million from a couple of undisclosed investors last month to further develop a razor-thin battery for in-body medical devices.
The Baldwin Park-based company’s NanoEnergy battery also can be used in other microdevices such as smartcards. The product could be especially useful for future medical sensors embedded in the human body to measure health indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar or cholesterol levels.
Such in-body medical devices could help doctors diagnose health problems sooner, said Simon Nieh, chief executive and co-founder of FrontEdge.
“Now you have real-time monitoring of body chemistry or health-related parameters,” he said. “That can help you assist you in monitoring diseases much better than today.”
The company’s batteries can also be recharged to 70 percent of capacity in two minutes, according to FrontEdge. The power sources can be thinner than an average human hair, and bend and twist without damage.
“If a device goes under the skin or in certain body areas that move a lot, then some flexibility becomes necessary,” said Nieh, noting that embedded medical devices need special batteries. “They all need a very, very safe small power source.”
The company’s batteries are already used in semiconductors, he said, though Nieh declined to name specific customers. Medical devices that might use the battery are still going through the Food and Drug Administration’s approval process, but could deploy the firm’s power source within about two years.
FrontEdge, launched in 1994, has about 20 employees. Its batteries are based on lithium phosphorus oxynitride technology licensed from Oak Ridge National Laboratory of Oak Ridge, Tenn.
The total amount of seed investment in L.A.-area tech companies jumped by roughly 44 percent in the second quarter to $74.5 million, according to Venice-based accelerator Amplify.LA.
Growth in average deal size was the main driver of the increase. The second-quarter average came in at $2.9 million compared with $1.9 million in the first. The number of transactions stayed flat at 27.
“We saw investors let off the gas last quarter and then picked up investment this quarter,” said Connor Sundberg, an analyst who helped put together the report for Amplify. “It’s hard to put a specific cause on it, but a lot of it is cyclical.”
Consumer products and services startups were the most-funded category, accounting for $26 million across eight deals. That category also received the most funding during the first quarter.
Sundberg also noted that Los Angeles hosts a growing number of seed funds, which might continue to boost the flow of seed-level investment into local companies.