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April 2, 2014

SpeechVive completes funding to move speech aid for Parkinson's patients to the public

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Jessica Huber, associate professor in Purdue's Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, talks about the SpeechVive, a device to help those battling Parkinson's disease speak more loudly and communicate more effectively. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons) Download Photo

LAFAYETTE, Ind. and FORT WAYNE, Ind. - SpeechVive Inc. announced Wednesday (April 2) the completion of nearly $700,000 in funding to move a speech aid innovation for people with Parkinson's disease to the public.

Ambassador Enterprises, an Indiana-based for-profit philanthropic equity investment firm, is providing Series A funding to support the U.S. sales launch of the SpeechVive device. The technology is a behind-the-ear smart device that helps people with Parkinson's disease speak more loudly and communicate more effectively.

"Based on the market research we have conducted and the queries we have received from health care professionals and individuals, there is a strong need for a product like SpeechVive," said Steve Mogensen, president and CEO of SpeechVive. "Our plan is to launch the sales of the SpeechVive in the U.S. during the second quarter of this year."

The technology was developed over the past decade by Jessica Huber, associate professor in Purdue's Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. The focus of Huber's research is the development and testing of behavioral treatments to improve communication and quality of life in older adults and people with degenerative motor diseases.

SpeechVive reduces the speech impairments associated with Parkinson’s disease, which causes people with the disease to speak in a hushed, whispery voice, have mumbled speech and commonly impacts their ability to communicate effectively.

"The clinical data we have collected over the past four years demonstrates that SpeechVive is effective in 90 percent of the people using the device," Huber said. "I am proud of the improvements in communication and quality of life demonstrated in our clinical studies of the SpeechVive. I look forward to seeing the device on the market so that more people with Parkinson's disease will have access to it."

More than 1.5 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and it is one of the most common degenerative neurological diseases. About 89 percent of those with Parkinson's disease have voice-related change, or affecting how loudly they speak, and about at least 45 percent have speech-related change, or affecting how clearly they speak."

"Ambassador Enterprises is deeply committed to developing healthy lives, healthy communities and healthy futures" said Brad Miller of Ambassador Enterprises. "Since SpeechVive is a technology that can improve the overall quality of life for people, it is exactly the type of innovation we wish to invest in and support."

Huber has previously received $2.25 million in research funding for SpeechVive from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and $1 million for product development from a program administered through the Purdue Research Foundation.

About Ambassador Enterprises, LLC

 Based in Fort Wayne, Ind., Ambassador Enterprises is a for-profit, philanthropic, equity firm investing in leaders and their organizations, seeking partners who advance human welfare and provide financial returns. The firm invests in individuals, organizations and companies that share their commitment to producing economic, cultural and eternal returns. Learn more about the firm at http://www.ambassador-enterprises.com

About SpeechVive

SpeechVive is a Lafayette, Ind.-based corporation formed in 2011. The company is dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals with speech problems due to Parkinson's and other diseases by enabling people to speak more loudly and communicate more effectively with their loved ones. More information is available at http://www.speechvive.com

Writer: Cynthia Sequin, 765-588-3340, casequin@prf.org

Sources:  Steve Mogensen, 612-723-7200, smogensen@speechvive.com 

Jessica Huber, 765-494-3796, jhuber@purdue.edu

Brad Miller, brad.miller@ambassador-enterprises.com