HELSINKI, June 7 Finnish start-up company Valkee
has raised 7.4 million euros ($9.8 million) from a venture
capital fund and other investors to help it to boost sales of
its light-therapy products, designed to relieve seasonal
affective disorder and jetlag.
Priced at 185 euros, Valkee's bright-light headsets resemble
digital music players - quite unlike the lamps that are more
commonly used to treat seasonal affective disorder - but blast
light rather than music into the ear canals.
Seasonal affective disorder, or the winter blues, is problem
for many in Finland and other countries with long periods of
darkness. The company says it could also be used to alleviate
Valkee cited a study by the University of Oulu in Finland,
which shows that a daily 12-minute dose of bright lights through
the headset helps to lift moods and well-being. Valkee said that
clinical trials to test its effectiveness against jetlag,
cognitive performance and depression are ongoing.
The new funding will be spent on research as well as
expanding distribution in markets such as Russia and Britain,
the company said. The headsets are already sold in Finland,
other parts of northern Europe and Japan.
On its previous funding round, angel investor Esther Dyson
and former Nokia executive Anssi Vanjoki invested in
the business. Its biggest owners are its founders, Juuso Nissila
and Antti Aunio.