Mayo Clinic helps tech-enabled R&D shop nference to $60M B round

Venky Soundararajan, nference founder and chief scientific officer (nference)

Nference has raised $60 million. The Mayo Clinic-backed series B round positions nference to forge ahead with its effort to capture and analyze health data, including unstructured information, to help researchers discover and develop medicines.

Massachusetts-based nference is part of a clutch of tech-enabled organizations that want to improve biopharma R&D through better use of existing data. The approach rests on a belief that healthcare professionals and researchers are generating new information at a rapid, accelerating pace, creating too many data for humans to process. 

Nference wants to help scientists manage the data deluge. By capturing and organizing information in clinical notes, case reports, scientific literature, pathology images, ECG waveforms and genomic sequences, nference thinks its platform can help identify new targets and drug combinations.

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The potential of those applications, which are just part of what nference hopes to achieve, has led to industry and investor interest in the startup. That interest manifested today in a $60 million series B round. New investors Mayo Clinic and NTT Venture Capital put in some of the money. Matrix Partners and Matrix Capital Management, which backed nference’s $11 million series A, also contributed. 

Mayo Clinic invested in nference after concluding the startup’s platform can improve drug development and patient care. 

“Our strategic investment in nference is a reflection of our confidence that a holistic knowledge synthesis platform, that puts patient privacy first, is the solution for effectively leveraging real world evidence to spur innovation to benefit patient care,” Andrew Danielsen, chair of Mayo Clinic’s innovation commercialization arm, said in a statement.

The investment forges another bond between nference and Mayo Clinic. In 2017, the organizations teamed up to create Qrativ, a biotech that is using nference’s technology and Mayo Clinic’s data and expertise to identify additional uses for drugs in early development onward. Qrativ’s model is a twist on conventional drug repurposing, which typically focuses on more advanced molecules.

In recent years, other companies such as Biovista and NuMedii have established similar models, albeit typically centered on repurposing later-stage assets, and landed deals with big drugmakers including Sanofi. The companies share the goal of using technology and data to help identify new therapeutic opportunities, thereby cutting the time and money needed to get products to market, but are yet to deliver the string of approvals needed to validate the approach. 

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