It started off small. There was a low key $1.5 million seed round and then a $3 million Series A announced in 2013.
Fast-forward to 2017 and it’s clear Syapse is working on a much larger scale. On Tuesday, the Palo Alto, California-based software startup closed a $30 million Series D round, for a total of $71 million raised.
CEO Ken Tarkoff said the money “is largely for expansion purposes,” which he stressed did not just mean signing new customers. The company also wants to improve its precision oncology programs for existing hospital partners. They include Intermountain Healthcare, Providence St. Joseph Health, Henry Ford Health System, Aurora Health Care, Catholic Health Initiatives, and Dignity Health. Combined, this equates to one million active cancer cases at nearly 300 hospitals in 25 states.
It’s a fine line to walk. Syapse clearly needs to invest in its existing clients, but one-by-one, new players are emerging in the field. In a phone interview, Tarkoff said different networks are courting hospital systems, but none are in direct competition.
“This is still an early market, so there are lots of people pitching a lot of different things,” Tarkoff explained.
One notable addition to the field is Tempus, which has raised $130 million since its inception in 2015. Billionaire founder Eric Lefkofsky (of Groupon fame), has indicated he may personally donate up to $100 million in additional funds.
Tempus has set an ambitious goal of providing an end-to-end solution that is both science and software. For example, it plans to sequence its own tumor samples, to report back at the point-of-care.
While Syapse does bring fragmented clinical, molecular, treatment, and health outcomes data together, it also puts an emphasis on collaboration with labs and with companies that specialize in clinical trials. The strength of those relationships is evident in the latest funding round.
“The big focus for this round, since I joined 8 months ago, is that we are very focused on what we call ‘the provider-driven ecosystem’ around delivering precision oncology,” Tarkoff said “In this round, we have all different players from that ecosystem working together on investing in Syapse to be able to deliver a much more coordinated approach.”
Instead of relying exclusively on traditional VC firms, the team earned the backing of drug development companies, clinical trial experts, and more. The list of investors in the Series D round include Social Capital, Safeguard Scientifics, Ascension Ventures, GE Ventures, Intermountain Healthcare Innovation Fund, Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, Medidata Solutions, Roche Venture Fund, and Amgen Ventures.
“Life science companies recognize that they need to be able to work more closely with providers,” Tarkoff explained. “So this is their opportunity, as they see, to invest in us and to partner with our providers in ways to bring precision oncology to scale in the community.”
In the Series D announcement, Medidata President and Cofounder Glen De Vries shared a similar sentiment.
“Syapse has developed an advanced precision medicine platform that gives providers the tools needed to drive better outcomes in cancer care,” De Vries stated.
All the while, the push for precision oncology moves forward. And, in time, the principles of personalization may successfully spread to other fields, such as cardiology and endocrinology. That means that seven years in, Syapse still has a lot of potential growth ahead of it.
Photo: D3Damon, Getty Images
From drug developers all the way to providers, it’s key to find secure ways to access and use data to improve human health, all while protecting individuals’ privacy.
By adopting a precision medicine approach to pregnancy management, we can help empower today’s expectant parents in their individual pregnancy journey and provide physicians with the tools to provide optimum care.
Varda Shalev, MD, MPH
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