In a large clinical trial, a pharmaceutical company might collect information from hundreds of patients. But there are several steps in between collecting that data and making it usable for research.
Flywheel, a company helping automate these processes, raised $22 million in funding led by 8VC. It’s using a portion of the funds to acquire longstanding competitor Radiologics. Although the companies did not disclose the terms of the deal, Flywheel CEO Jim Olson said about half of the funds are for the acquisition, including equity, and the other half is to extend the combined company’s runway.
Minneapolis-based Flywheel was started by two Stanford researchers six years ago. They were looking for a better way to manage growing and increasingly complex research datasets. Flywheel started with academic researchers as its customers, and has since added clinics and hospitals that have a research segment, and life sciences companies.
“The main thing we learned is they all have the same problem,” Olson said: managing large databases and supporting research workflows.
He said Flywheel helps save researchers time by helping them manage their data, especially imaging data. For example, across several clinical trial partners, there’s no standardized format to receive the data, even if it’s for the same trial. So Flywheel’s work is to normalize that data, going into metadata to make images searchable, or removing any identifying information. They also tag and group images, such as by tumor characteristics.
Radiologics’ work is similar. The St. Louis-based company, which has been around for more than a decade, also processes medical imaging data.
But it caters to different clients, with an open source software product, and some paid hospitals and clinics. It also has a slightly different background. Where Radiologics focused on oncology and radiomics, Flywheel has more of a background in neurobiological imaging.
With the acquisition, Olson will continue as CEO of the combined company and Radiologics’ CEO, Dan Marcus, will become its chief scientific officer.
“Together, we’re going to help speed the development of clinical trials, get to discovery faster, and reduce wasted time and resources along the way,” Marcus in a news release. “I’m thrilled that our combined company will continue to serve the research community through open source and enterprise informatics solutions.”
Flywheel’s ultimate goal is to build out a broader life science platform, extending beyond its strengths in medical imaging, Olson said. It currently has one large pharma customer, and a total of 60 clients across both companies. Radiologics’ open source software also has more than 300 users.
Photo: AndreyPopov, Getty Images
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