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Finnish start-up shines light in ears, raises 7.4 million euros

HELSINKI (Reuters) - 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 jetlag.

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.

(Reporting By Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Ritsuko Ando and David Goodman)

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