San Francisco startup reels in $30M for disease outbreak prediction tech

Metabiota's map of global hotspots for disease outbreak--Courtesy of Metabiota

San Francisco startup Metabiota raked in $30 million in Series A funding to ramp up operations as it looks to increase its market reach for its disease outbreak prediction tools.

Growth equity firm RSTP led the round, with a Capricorn Healthcare, WP Global Partners, Industry Ventures and Data Collective contributing funds. Metabiota's computer modeling technology predicts global disease outbreaks by collecting data from communities and regional clinics, creating a map with hotspots for disease. Most of the company's clients are government agencies, but now Metabiota wants to use its latest funding to expand its client base among insurance companies and governments, The Wall Street Journal reports. The company is already working with reinsurance outfits such as Munich Re, providing data that will allow reinsurers to offer insurance contracts to countries affected by the outbreak.

"We don't have to just throw up our hands when epidemics happen," Metabiota founder Nathan Wolfe told the WSJ. "Through a combination of monitoring and modeling, we can be proactive and hedge some of the risk."

Metabiota is also teaming up with African Risk Capacity to create "outbreak and epidemic insurance" that would provide immediate funding to countries dealing with outbreaks, according to the WSJ story. The products would be paid out in stages as the outbreak becomes more serious, allowing countries to immediately access funds rather than wait for financial aid.

But Metabiota could face some stumbling blocks as it strikes out into the insurance sector. Investors might not be willing to shoulder the risk of outbreaks from countries or companies. And big disease outbreaks are not common, the WSJ notes, which could signal a smaller market for the products.

Still, the company is hedging its bets on future success with new funding under its belt. Metabiota raised $2.8 million in seed funding last March, and the latest Series A round brings the company's total investment to $32.8 million, TechCrunch reports. John DeLoche, managing partner of RSTP, said his company sees a multibillion-dollar opportunity in Metabiota's approach.

"Metabiota is digitizing the world's microbial threats so that governments, insurance companies and corporations in multiple industries can be proactive about fighting disease spread and epidemic risk financing," DeLoche said, as quoted by TechCrunch.

- here's Metabiota's SEC filing
- read the WSJ story (sub. req.)
- and here's the TechCrunch article