Medical Labs are scattered across the country and each one is researching different areas. While these researchers are trying to develop cures, they need participants like you and me to help them with their clinical trials. The only problem is that they need specific people, and it’s not always so easy to secure them. This is where Science 37 comes in. Disrupting the previous methods, they have created the “metasite” to take care of the clinical trials from end to end. The cloud service is as good as a research assistant and gives you the data you need on your clients no matter who they may be.
CEO Dr. Noah Craft tells LATechWatch about their helpful product and how they secured a new round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Science 37 raised $6.5 million in a Series A funding round co-led by Lux Capital and dRx Capital. Lux Ventures IV L.P. is a $350 million fund targeting early-stage science and technology ventures, and dRx Capital is a newly-formed joint venture between Qualcomm and Novartis focused on digital medicine products, services and business models.
Tell us about your product or service.
Science 37 has created a new clinical trial operating model – the metasite™ – that unlocks access so researchers can find the right patients, and patients can find the right trials. Our Network Oriented Research Assistant, NORA™, is a cloud-based mobile research platform that makes metasites™ possible and connects everyone – safely and securely. Science 37 offers end-to-end clinical trial services, allowing sponsors and researchers to streamline trial setup, increase the speed of recruitment, improve patient retention, and offers exemplary data quality. Our mission is to accelerate biomedical discovery by making research work better for patients.
What inspired you to start the company?
Our company was founded by physician-scientists who wanted to make it easier for patients to participate in clinical trials and ultimately to accelerate biomedical discovery so they could help bring new treatments to the patients who need them most. Our Chief Medical Officer Belinda Tan and our CEO, Noah Craft, are both MD PhD physicians with experience in telemedicine and clinical trials. As scientists, we wanted to be able to test our own ideas in clinical trials and knew that many other researchers had the same dream. The problem is that we were limited by the fact that most patients don’t live near us. Two years ago, while consulting for a large pharmaceutical company, we learned that this problem was shared by the entire industry. We wanted to create a way for all the patients that wanted to take part in trials to connect with the researchers who are running the trials. We started with the question, “what is best for the patient?” Then, we applied our experience in telemedicine, clinical research, software and technology, and digital strategy to create our core technology and business operating model that brings the research directly to patients, no matter where they live.
How is it different?
We are providing a new operating model for clinical trials – one of the few business areas yet to be fundamentally changed by technology. The traditional model is built around the academic research center and fundamentally limits the number of people who can participate in research- only those who live near a research hospital, excluding up to 70% of potential patients. Our model brings the entire clinical trial to the patient, to their home and their local care circle, via locally delivered medical services (blood draws, lab tests) and the NORA™ mobile platform. NORA™ allows Science 37 to recruit, enroll, and deliver clinical trials to patients directly. For example, for one of our current trials, we are recruiting patients with a rare disease from 7 entire states which represent close to 25% of the U.S. population. Using this model, we are dramatically exceeding expectations for how quickly we are enrolling patients. More importantly, the patients taking part in our trials have an extremely high satisfaction rate because they have access to the entire clinical research team through NORA 24/7.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
The pharmaceutical and medical device industries spend approximately $50 billion annually on clinical trials. Our model creates the biggest benefits for researchers who struggle to enroll and retain enough patients in their studies, and for patients with rare diseases and specific subtypes of cancer who are searching for targeted clinical research opportunities. Our metasite operating model can be applied to many types of research, but we are currently focused on rare disease research, precision medicine and targeted oncology trials. Because our model opens up the option to participate in clinical trials to a much larger segment of the population, we are particularly well-suited to support new developments in personalized medicine research.
What’s your business model?
Science 37 offers end-to-end clinical trial services to pharmaceutical companies, biotech companies, and device manufacturers to determine if their treatments are safe and effective. Our core value proposition is that by removing the geographic barriers to patient participation, and reducing the number of sites required to run a trial, the metasite operating model can dramatically reduce the time needed to complete the trial. Additionally, because of the significant efficiencies that the Science 37 operating model and our metasites™ create, we are able to provide end-to-end clinical trial services to sponsors and researchers at a lower cost than the traditional models.
What was the funding process like?
Science 37 was created to offer a solution to a well-defined problem in the pharmaceutical industry – clinical trials are too slow, too expensive, and not patient-centric. Because we had the support of large, well-known industry clients when we started, our ideas and our team had credibility right out of the gate. As we came out of stealth mode this past spring, there was a tremendous surge in interest by other pharmaceutical companies to work with us. We realized that we would need to raise capital to accelerate our development process and scale more quickly to handle the pipeline of projects. It was clear from the beginning of the funding process that there was a lot of interest in this space and many investors seemed to believe in our vision and in our team’s ability to execute on it. We were lucky enough to be able to select our current syndicate of investors very carefully and couldn’t be happier with the strategic benefits they bring to the table.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Running clinical trials, developing a complex software platform, practicing telemedicine, caring for very sick patients, and raising capital would all be challenging as solitary pursuits. We had to do these things all at once in a highly regulated industry. As a young, but rapidly growing company with an innovative and disruptive operating model, there were some intense moments along the way. That definitely created some capacity challenges, and we are extremely happy to now have the resources to scale our staff as we ramp up for more trials in 2016.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Science 37 isn’t just innovating with technology. We are disrupting an entrenched business model, fundamentally expanding the potential of clinical trials to recruit and retain patients no matter where they live. Like the traditional models, patient safety and data quality are our highest priorities. However, our new approach reduces set-up time and costs, and leverages network efficiencies to conduct faster, more cost-efficient clinical trials at scale. Not only were our investors attracted to this bold approach, they also saw how we fit into the larger digital revolution that is forcing healthcare companies to think big, learn fast and adapt successfully, while delivering greater value at a lower cost. We believe our design-thinking approach, our mission to bring clinical trials to scale, and the sheer need for innovation in clinical research led investors to write the check.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Our next six months will be focused on growing our core team and executing on several new exciting clinical trials that will each help us to refine and improve our operating model and technology across multiple new therapeutic areas.
What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Science 37 successfully moved fairly quickly into venture funding. To get there, we built our company on some core principles derived from the “lean start-up” movement, design thinking, and always were focused on our mission. We have a very interdisciplinary team internally and believe in radical collaboration externally. We know one of the strengths of the Los Angeles technology community is how different disciplines – for example, new media and healthcare – can work together productively to create innovative solutions.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
The next year will be an opportunity to expand the number of clinical trials we are running and to continue to prove and refine our model. If we continue to successfully execute on this model, we hope to grow the company to support the demand for this innovative approach. Ultimately, we know that if we are successful, it means there are more new treatments getting more quickly to the patients who need them most.
What’s your favorite LA bar, when you need to kick back and relax?
Our team is a mix of west and east siders – on the west side, in Venice we hang out at Clutch or The Other Room. On the east side, we’re big fans of Thirsty Crow and Stella Bar. But our favorite place to unwind is on site during one of our office happy hours – we keep our fridge well-stocked with Golden Road IPAs… and we’ll let your readers know when we move (very soon) to our next office where we’ll have a little more space for guests!