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Putin-sponsored fund FRII invests $1.3m in Knopka Zhizni

0 17 June 2014

The Internet Initiative Development Fund (FRII) has invested 45 million roubles ($1.3 million) in the project Knopka Zhizni (Life Button).  

This is the second round of investment for the startup, which previously received $1 million from the Russian systems integrator company “IT”. According to Irina Linik, commercial director of the project, the startup is currently breaking even, and the funds from FIID will be used to expand infrastructure and bring the product to the mass market. The company plans to be making profit in 2 years time. 

The concept behind Knopka Zhizni is an electronic call for assistance for the elderly or disabled. Clients receive a device with an SOS button which can be worn around their neck, as a bracelet, on a belt or on their mobile phone. When they push the button, they are put through to a 24-hour Help Centre, where the reason for their call and their symptoms are determined and depending on the situation their relatives, neighbours, paramedics or police are contacted. 

The project is paid for by a user subscription. Linik believes that the device is simpler for users than panic buttons available on smartphones. Furthermore, the Help Centre is able to make decisions based on the medical information of users (long term illness, medicines, allergies, etc. ) which she says makes the assistance offered considerably more effective. 

According to its press release, the primary users of the service are elderly people whose relatives want them to be looked after but are unable to do so personally due to work or living far away. There are currently 18 million elderly people in Russia, 6 million of whom require special care and 1.5 million of these often forget their address or have trouble getting home. 

FRII was founded last year by presidential decree. In addition to running a 3-month startup acceleration programme it also invests in startups at different stages. In total the federal government has set aside $180 million for the project.


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