The company has established early traction with elite sports leagues as it builds out a proprietary tech solution for concussion management.

Healthcare technology platform HitIQ (ASX:HIQ) is bringing a unique tech solution when it lists on the ASX next week.

The company has established early traction with its smart mouthguard technology, and recently signed a multi-year deal with the Australian Football League (AFL).

HitIQ has raised $10m from investors at 20c per share to pursue two strategic priorities:

  1. A partnership approach with elite sports leagues both in Australia and internationally, and;
  2. the establishment of an end-to-end solution for a concussion technology platform  based on data modelling and VR (virtual reality) rehabilitation.

Ahead of its June 16 listing, HitIQ co-founder and managing director Mike Vegar caught up with Stockhead to discuss the company’s strategy.

The smart mouthguard platform is an evolution of the company Vegar established with his co-founder, following a 10-year career in sports science with elite and olympic sports teams.

“We formed a mouthguard manufacturing company which went on to be one of the largest suppliers in Australia. And in the midst of that growth, we looked at ways to expand the product, based on what I was seeing on the front lines of professional sports,” Vegar said.

Following a 12-month development process, the team built a product that incorporates sensor technology without compromising the mouthguard’s primary function.

In turn, HitIQ was uniquely equipped to address one of the primary health risks in sport globally – concussion.

“If you look at the data, 95% of concussions don’t result in unconsciousness,” Vegar explained.

“So, the injury itself is very difficult to detect observationally, which is the current methodology most leagues still use globally.”

“So that’s the main proposition of our technology – it really acts as a surveillance tool which can identify potentially dangerous impacts that traditionally go unobserved.”


Scale-up plans

Using sensor technology embedded in the mouthguard, HitIQ’s device measures the biomechanics of the head and uses motion detection to quantify head impact forces.

The company found an early adopter with the AFL, which worked together on the product rollout with HitIQ over a 12-18 month period.

“It was important for us to build that interest at the team level. But when we took a data set to the league, it very fast became a top-down approach where the league backed it and rolled it out across the competition,” Vegar said.

From the success of those trials, HitIQ has now signed a multi-year league-wide deal with the AFL based on a subscription (SaaS) revenue model.  2022 will include rolling it out to the AFLW league.

“It acts as the blueprint for us to take globally, and that’s what we’re doing with our trial partners in the US with the NCAA and the UFC,” Vegar said.

“The process is to build a data set, trial it with elite sports leagues and transition into a commercial outcome.”


Data-based approach

For major sports leagues globally, solutions to the concussion problem will be a by-product of advances in technology, Vegar says.

While HitIQ has gained early traction with elite sports leagues, the longer-term vision is to leverage that data into a broader healthcare platform solution around concussion prevention and rehabilitation.

“Ultimately, we want to build an end-to-end concussion management ecosystem utilising technology that will span multiple domains – from early detection and surveillance to assessment technology and then rehab technology,” Vegar said.

“It all starts with the source data, and we’ll be building it out from there.”


Listing rationale

In that context, HitIQ’s rationale for listing at this stage of its growth cycle is to build out its capital base in pursuit of an end-to-end platform approach.

Over the next 9-18 months, the company will look to commence clinical trials for a diagnostic product suite.

The testing pathway will incorporate the use of cognitive assessment tools using VR technology, based on the data collected from its smart mouthguard technology

With a proven end-to-end solution, HitIQ’s goal is to extend its addressable market to hospitals and clinical practices that can license the technology.

“The source data we’re collecting is creating so much opportunity downstream to build other tech solutions like VR, which will allow us to work in the domains of assessment and diagnosis,” Vegar said.

“So, the approach we’ve taken is to become a real player with a multi-product solution. For a company of our size that’s required some risk-taking, but we’ve managed it reasonably successfully to date.”

“And with the extra capital from our listing, I think it’s definitely going to bear fruit over the next 12-18 months.  Moreover, we’d expect to add considerably to our revenue line with new commercial deals with national leagues, both here and overseas.” he said.

This article was developed in collaboration with HitIQ, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

 This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.