Portable test maker Cue Health nets $235M to pivot back to a post-COVID world

Though many companies expect the demand for COVID-19 testing to wane in the coming months, investors are hoping the public remains hungry for the progress made in having healthcare work nearly anywhere.

Portable diagnostic developer Cue Health hopes to lead that charge, with $235 million in new financing to help spin its success with point-of-care coronavirus tests into a broader model for multiple diseases and conditions.

The recent Fierce 15 winner attracted new private investments from Perceptive Advisors, MSD Capital and Koch Strategic Platforms and brought back its previous backers Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Decheng Capital, CAVU Ventures and ACME Capital, among others. 

"The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many of the shortfalls of the status quo healthcare model," Cue CEO Ayub Khattak said in a statement. "It's clear that the world needs to make the move to Healthcare 2.0, a decentralized, responsive, digital-first and consumer-centric model that makes it easy to access important health information and act on it.” 

Khattak describes “distributed diagnostics” as the missing piece to enabling effective virtual care to a wide audience. In a pre-pandemic world, the company aimed to do so with point-of-care tests for the flu.

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But since the spread of the pandemic, it’s pivoted to hand-held tests that became the screener of choice for the NBA’s player-protecting Bubble and scored the company hundreds of millions of dollars in support from the U.S. government to expand their domestic production.

Now, Cue plans to pivot back once more to offer a menu of simple tests run through one diagnostic system and a telehealth platform—including in respiratory, cardiovascular and sexual health, for use in doctors’ offices, nursing homes and hospitals—in addition to clearing people of infectious diseases for entry to schools, event venues, hotels and elsewhere.

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But Cue isn’t the only company garnering investors’ attention. So far this year companies such as ixlayer, the telehealth developer that aims to connect people with lab diagnostics, debuted an oversubscribed $75 million series A round—while former Fierce 15 winner Inflammatix secured $102 million for its pipeline of point-of-care immune system tests.