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Canadian firm buys Simbex, a Lebanon company that designs tech to track sports head injuries

  • Amaris Genemaras, a research engineer at Simbex, collects data from helmets at a Dartmouth football practice on April 28, 2017 in Hanover N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

  • Simbex CEO, president and co-founder Richard Greenwald on Thursday, May 11, 2017, in Lebanon, N.H. (Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jovelle Tamayo

  • A Dartmouth football player watches from the sideline during a practice in Hanover, N.H, on April 28, 2017. This particular helmet has Simbex sensors in it. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 10/19/2021 9:51:35 PM
Modified: 10/22/2021 5:20:55 PM

LEBANON — Simbex, a Lebanon company known for technology that tracks impacts to athletes’ heads during contact sports, has been bought by a Canadian firm with U.S. headquarters in San Diego.

Founded in 2000 by Rick Greenwald, who had earned a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from Dartmouth in 1988, and Hypertherm co-founder Robert Dean, Simbex has been acquired by Salona Medical Device Corp., which recently went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange with a plan to acquire medical device and product companies.

The sale of Simbex marks the fourth blue-ribbon Upper Valley company in the past year to be sold to outside investors, following GW Plastics last November, Pete & Gerry’s Organic Eggs in May and biotech startup Avitide in September.

“We’ve been growing the company aggressively in the past five years,” Greenwald said of Simbex in an interview.

He said that bringing Simbex, a company that designs medical devices, together with Salona, a company which manufactures and distributes them, will provide a “vertically integrated platform to accelerate our growth.”

The sales price comprises an initial payment of $3.5 million and a second “contingent payment” of up to $3.5 million to be paid in 2023 based on financial performance, in addition to 6.4 million shares of Salona stock, which based on recent trading price of 73 cents per share equals $4.7 million in U.S. dollars.

Simbex had revenue of more than $8 million in 2020, Salona said in the news release announcing the acquisition.

The company is perhaps best known for its HIT System — for Head Impact Telemetry System — which consists of film-thin microchip sensors placed inside football helmets that measure the force of impacts to the head and relay the data to computers.

Simbex’s technology was later acquired by sports helmet and equipment maker Riddell, which incorporated it into its equipment — now in its third generation. The technology makes it possible to detect on the field in real time whether a player has suffered a hit to head that exceeds a certain threshold for head injury.

The technology is now employed in hundreds of football programs at all levels around the country.

Les Cross, chairman of Salona, said in the release that Simbex has a strong track record in developing intellectual property and “cutting edge medical devices in very specific markets.”

He praised the Lebanon company’s strategy of narrowly licensing its technology to clients while retaining the valuable rights for future applications and markets yet unforeseen.

“One key aspect of this acquisition is the commercialized expertise or (intellectual property) rights that Simbex retains for products in markets their clients do not address, specifically the global health care market for recovery medicine that we do target,” Cross said.

An email sent to Salona for comment went unanswered.

Greenwald said he and his longtime partner, Jeff Chu, and business development head Greg Lange have signed employment agreements and the company has entered into a new “long-term” lease agreement for its space at the Whitman Communications building on Mechanic Street in Lebanon.

Greenwald said there are no plans by Salona to uproot Simbex operations, a not-uncommon occurrence when original partners sell their stake.

“It’s really important that we are rooted in the Upper Valley and plan to stay,” said Greenwald, a longtime Norwich resident who recently moved to Lebanon. “We live here in Lebanon and want to stay here in Lebanon as the city grows.”

Simbex has 45 employees, nearly twice the number it did as recently as 2017. Several years ago the company, which was founded to design and build its own devices, expanded to include consulting on the design of devices for other for other partners.

Greenwald said that John Stephens, a minority partner in Simbex and who has been involved closely with the company for 20 years, remains a consultant.

Despite the extra consideration paid in stock to the principals, Simbex will have to achieve specified financial targets in order for them to receive it, according to Salona. The contingent compensation tied to performance is known as an “earn-out.”

Contact John Lippma n at jlippman@vnews.com.

Clarification

This story has been updated to clarify where Salona is headquartered and when Rick Greenwald earned a master’s degree from Dartmouth.




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