Emulate bumps up Series B to $45M, lands Covance deal

Emulate has added $17 million to its Series B round and landed a deal with Covance. The deals bring the size of the organs-on-a-chip player’s Series B up to $45 million and give it a partner with a significant presence in preclinical research as it pushes to turn a profit.

Taken together, the injection of another $17 million and the hook up with LabCorp’s ($LH) Covance mark a notable step forward for Emulate’s drive to wean preclinical research teams off of animal models. The drive is based on AA battery sized chips designed to mimic the environment found in the lung, intestine, liver and skin. A software system spanning from experimental planning to data analysis supports this core technology.

Covance, a major preclinical CRO, is working to combine Emulate’s technology with its own research know-how. The end goal is to have qualified organ-on-a-chip technology to pitch to biopharma clients, an objective that gives a sense of the nascent nature of the technology. Covance is starting out by trying to figure out how Emulate’s kidney-mimicking chip can fit into its offering. Specifically, Covance will investigate whether the chips can enhance its drug-transporter interaction assessments.

If successful, the project could help Emulate’s relationship with Covance blossom into a significant part of its emerging business, such is the presence of its new partner in preclinical research. That outcome would move Emulate closer to its goal of turning a profit.

The additional investment fits in with this objective, too. Fueled by the $17 million, Emulate wants to continue its rise by shortening its product development cycles and stepping up its commercial activities.

Since spinning out of Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering in 2014, Emulate has established itself at the forefront of the nascent organ-on-a-chip sector. AstraZeneca ($AZN) and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) gave the technology the once over before Emulate even officially existed. And Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Merck ($MRK) have both signed up since the startup set out on its own.