Good Thinking! Nawgan Lands Investment from Kirin

Nawgan, the tiny brain health beverage out of St. Louis founded by brain scientist Robert Paul, has landed investment from Kirin Holdings, the owner of Kirin beer.

Kirin Holdings also owns Kyowa Hakko Bio, which makes Cognizin — the key functional compound in Nawgan.

Nawgan is still tiny — sold in about 300 stores in the St. Louis area, but plans are for national expansion, according to spokeswoman Joanna Barber.

Nawgan founder Rob Paul

Release is below. Details to come.

ST. LOUIS, MO (August 23, 2011) – Nawgan Products LLC, the makers of Nawgan, the innovative functional brain health beverage, and Japan’s Kirin Holdings announce Kirin’s investment in the LLC. The investment represents Kirin Holdings’ minority interest in Nawgan Products LLC and will fund growth initiative plans throughout North America. Kirin Holdings is a world leader in beer and other beverage production in Japan, with annual sales of $25 billion.

“It is our great honor to be part of this opportunity and be able to provide a new value for the ever-evolving health drink market in the United States through profoundly unique Nawgan products.” said Mr. Senji Miyake, President and CEO of Kirin Holdings.

Kyowa Hakko Bio, the maker of Cognizin®, is part of the Kirin Holdings Group.  Cognizin is a key ingredient found in every can of Nawgan; each can of the beverage also provides a good source of choline and 50% daily value of natural vitamin E.

Nawgan was recently honored by Beverage Innovation Magazine as Best Concept Drink and Best Alertness Drink at the seventh annual InnoBev Global Beverages Summit in Washington, D.C., besting more than 150 functional drink entries from other countries. It is this innovation and the brand’s potential for market preemption that solidified interest from Kirin Holdings.

“We at Nawgan are thrilled that Kirin has elected to partner with us, not simply because Kirin is such a strong beverage company, but because of the company’s remarkable expertise in formulation, research and development,” said Dr. Robert Paul, Board-Certified Clinical Neuropsychologist and developer of Nawgan.  “Kirin Holdings shares our commitment to bringing science-based beverages to the market.  Nawgan, powered by Cognizin, fulfills that commitment by helping people improve concentration and focus throughout the day.”

Nawgan was launched in 2010 with seed funding provided in part by the St. Louis-based Biogenerator and angel investors including beverage veterans from the St. Louis area.  The company is led by a seasoned Board of Directors including co-founding members Peter Wodtke and James S. Tonkin, along with Dan Broderick, Toru Yoshimura from Kirin, and CEO and President Jim von der Heydt.

“This partnership between Nawgan and Kirin illuminates one of the most exciting equity investments in the functional beverage space in the last several years,” said Tonkin, a 37-year beverage industry veteran.  “As brain health becomes more important, especially to an aging American population, Nawgan is perfectly positioned for measured and specific market expansion and growth, supporting mental alertness and focus for consumers from college age to seniors.”

Available in Red Berries Caffeinated, Berry Non-Caffeinated and Tarocco Orange Caffeinated, Nawgan contains natural ingredients and is low in calories and sodium. The key ingredient, Cognizin works in harmony with the other ingredients in Nawgan to support alertness and concentration.  Studies have demonstrated that healthy adults who used Cognizin daily exhibited significant improvements in performance on tests of alertness and concentration, as well as brain activity visualized on sophisticated imaging techniques.

Nawgan is currently found on shelves at more than 300 stores across the greater St. Louis region, including Walgreens, Straub’s Fine Grocers, Dierberg’s Markets and Shop’n’Save.