Trial tech vets raise $5M to develop RTSM system


A team of clinical trial technology veterans has raised $5 million to bankroll development and early marketing of a randomization and trial supply management (RTSM) system. The startup, 4G Clinical, is aiming to leverage natural language processing to design an RTSM that shortens study startup times and optimizes trial supply strategies.

RTSM systems support the randomization of patients into different arms of a trial and the supply of study drugs to sites. The technology has evolved from the phone-based systems of the 1990s, known by the abbreviation IVRS, to the web-based platforms typically used today. 4G thinks it can improve on these offerings by simplifying the process of managing increasingly complex clinical trials, and has persuaded Schooner Capital lead a $5 million round to support its ambitions.

In going after the RTSM market, 4G is pitting itself against dominant forces in trial technology such as Medidata ($MDSO) and Parexel ($PRXL). The startup’s belief that it can take on these incumbents is undergirded, in part, by the strength of the team it has put together.

Founder and CTO Ed Tourtellotte ran Tourtellotte Solutions for 11 years, advancing IRT along the way, before accepting a buyout bid from BioClinica in 2009. Tourtellotte lured Christine Hurley away from the clinical trial tech team at Biogen ($BIIB) to serve as COO of 4G. And Cedric Druck has brought his years of trial supply forecasting experience to the table as head of engineering.

This team pulled in $2.5 million in the first phase of the Series A in January, which was also led by Schooner. Since then, 4G has put together the makings of an RTSM, called Prancer, and a business that proved sufficiently compelling to persuade Schooner to part with more money for further development and early marketing.

“Prancer is the first RTSM system to leverage both a modern stack and the intelligence of natural language processing,” Schooner Managing Director Ted Henderson said in a statement. “The speed and flexibility of this platform, including more intuitive interfaces and robust forecasting capability, is extremely valuable in the arena of drug development.”

4G used the first, $2.5 million tranche of the Series A round to build out its team, which has grown from a handful of people to a staff of 24 over the course of the year. Members of the first wave of appointments have raided their previous employers for new hires.

Kathleen Greenough followed Hurley to 4G from Biogen, where she spent 12 years. Maxime Flamant and Jean van der Vaeren, both of whom worked at consultancy N-SIDE at the same time as Druck, joined the software engineering team. Pirmin Froehlicher, formerly of Roche ($RHHBY), has also joined 4G.