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Lebanon startup driving hard deal

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A Lebanon-based health care startup wants to build a call center here and add as many as 300 jobs, but state and local officials are struggling with a big obstacle to keeping the company here—lack of early-stage venture capital.

VoCare Inc. has plans to sell communications devices and services that can provide 24-hour-a-day remote monitoring and live communications between seniors and their primary-care doctors. It is trying to raise $4 million in capital to launch the service.

CEO Steve Peabody said he's considering moves to Florida, Texas or South Carolina. In the latter two states, particularly, there are early stage venture capitalists—some of whom have been lined up by state officials—interested in investing, he said. He also likes the fact that Texas has no corporate income tax and that Florida has an abundance of seniors, who are VoCare's intended customers.

Peabody is submitting a request for investment to the Indiana 21st Century Fund this week. He's hoping for an answer in the next four months. If Indiana officials invest, Peabody said, he has private investors willing to commit as much as $2 million in matching funds.

"Hopefully it works out. If it works out, then we’re pretty happy to stay here," he said.

VoCare recently signed a pilot partnership with Indianapolis-based American Health Network, a 200-physician practice, and researchers at Indiana University, who will help test its TeleHealth System. Also participating in the pilot is Wisconsin-based Marshfield Clinic.

VoCare, which has five employees, has designed a mobile device that can combine a tablet computer with a cell phone and a pendant device that calls for help in case of a fall. The company intends to charge about $600 for the device, which could replace a traditional cell phone, plus $120 per month for communication services.

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