The team that founded Firecrest Clinical and led it to a takeout by CRO Icon has raised $6 million for its next startup, teckro. Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, one of the earliest investors in Facebook ($FB), led the round, giving teckro a well-connected, deep-pocketed backer and the money to develop its nascent mobile clinical trial platform.
Teckro is pitching its platform as a way for sponsors and CROs to help study sites organize and access information about active clinical trials. The idea is to use information retrieval and machine learning technologies to free site staff from the need to root around in protocols, lab manuals and emails in search of answers. In doing so, teckro thinks it can give site staff that rarest of things: an intuitive piece of software that unequivocally makes their working lives simpler.
“We wanted to create something that would fit into the everyday lives of those conducting or participating in a clinical trial, something that doesn’t require a conscious effort to use or is seen as an additional burden,” Nigel Hughes, VP of business development at teckro, said in a promotional video about the company. “The end result is an always-on, fully-mobile digital connection. It’s a connection to the protocol, it’s a connection to the wider expertise around the study drug.”
As it stands, it is too early to tell whether teckro can live up to these lofty goals, but the identities of the people in charge and those who are bankrolling the venture suggest it should be taken seriously. Hughes is joined on the management team by fellow Firecrest cofounders Gary Hughes and Jacek Skrzypiec.
The trio grew Firecrest into a 60-person business, before Icon swooped and incorporated the firm and its site-performance management software into its operation. All three Firecrest cofounders stuck around in senior positions at Icon for a while, before leaving to return to their startup roots.
This time around, the team has quickly added some big name support. Founders Fund, the Silicon Valley VC shop set up by Thiel and two other former PayPal executives, has backed some of the biggest names in tech, including Facebook, airbnb and SpaceX. And its forays into life sciences have proven successful. The fund bankrolled Stemcentrx to its $10.2 billion takeover by AbbVie ($ABBV).
Peter Gray, who was CEO of Icon at the time of the Firecrest acquisition, has also burnished the image and contact list of teckro by taking on the role of chairman.
Now, with these resources in place and money in the bank, teckro is looking to grow its team. On the tech side, teckro is currently recruiting front- and back-end software engineers, as well as senior test automation engineers.
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