Nick Encina


Focus: Software that supports distributed drug research
Founded: 2009
Funding: Google Ventures, Borealis Ventures
Headquarters: Cambridge, MA
CEO: Nick Encina

In recent months, Wingu has found more Big Pharma outfits to give the startup's R&D software a shot. Drugmakers have been trying out a beta version of the Cambridge, MA-based company's product, which is designed to help pharma groups corral a growing herd of programs that involve external collaborators such as CROs and biotech partners.

Talk to many chiefs and pharma, and they will say that more of their drug research needs to move into the hands of outside experts and development organizations to get the work done efficiently. As this drive toward distributed R&D occurs, Wingu has jumped onto the scene with software that drugmakers use to track and coordinate projects with external partners. A key to the solution, the company says, is tying data exchange between partners into workflows.

Indeed, there are administrative complexities linked to externalizing research, and one of them is the lack of transparency among partners. If drugmakers are going to throw a project over the wall, they want to see progress updates as the project unfolds. In some cases, that doesn't happen, and partnerships fail. Wingu's software is designed to show leaders breakdowns in their ongoing projects, providing opportunities to make fixes before the work goes off the rails.

Wingu's software involves "actionable timelines via a combination of simple project management plus team collaboration plugged directly into office tools that customers are already using, thereby lowering barriers to adoption and seamlessly giving greater transparency and structure to project stakeholders," Wingu CEO and co-founder Nick Encina wrote via email.

Wingu has been quiet about the specific drugmakers using its software, but says that several top 10 pharma groups are beta users. And Google Ventures has made Wingu one of the Google-backed venture firm's picks to help life sciences companies solve data-centric problems. Google Ventures led Wingu's Series A round, which was revealed in April and included backing from Borealis Ventures.