Software developers worldwide talk about Boston. So do sports marketers and educators. But nobody in any industry talks about Boston the way people do in the life sciences industry. If you’re involved in a company that does biotech, medtech or health IT, I hope you like clam chowder. Because in healthcare and medicine, all roads lead to Boston.
With that in mind, here are the 21 companies and individuals who are the finalists for BostInno’s 50 on Fire awards in healthcare and medicine in 2015. Only five will win, but all of them are having an impact in the hub of the healthcare universe.
Check out what you need to know on the finalists in healthcare below, and get tickets to the Dec. 3 event here.
ACT.md provides a team-based care coordination platform for managing complex patients. The platform connects all members of a care team for more collaborative care planning, helping healthcare organizations reduce duplication and gain efficiencies. Founded in 2012 by healthcare informatics and operations veterans Dr. Isaac Kohane, Dr. Kenneth Mandl and Ted Quinn, ACT.md raised an $8.4 million Series A with Rose Park Advisors in July.
Admetsys has developed the first fully automated glucose control system specifically hospitals and surgical care operations. They won the top prize at SXSW Hatch Pitch earlier this year and have developed an artificial pancreas that is set to reach the market in Europe next year.
It’s been a good year for American Well: Despite a patent lawsuit vs. a competitor, the company has inked a deal with CVS to explore direct-to-patient care, and hired its first chief medical officer, Dr. Peter Antall, who helped establish The Online Care Group, a telehealth network of more than 600 board-certified physicians, dietitians and psychotherapists, operating in 48 States. American Well provides remote consultations with doctors for health systems, health plans, employers and physicians, via kiosks, Internet and mobile.
Blueprint went public in April, raising $147 million for its plan to use DNA sequencing to develop a portfolio of treatments targeting specific forms of cancer. Investors are betting on the abilities of founders Brian Druker, Nick Lydon and Charles Sawyers. All three helped develop Gleevec (imatinib) at Novartis. It became a landmark treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia. If they’re successful, Blueprint will be able to replicate that success again and again. Blueprint is now on its way to clinical trials with a treatment of systemic mastocytosis and it’s readying the presentation of its preclinical data in treatment of patients with a rare form of acute myeloid leukemia.
Cris De Luca, Johnson & Johnson Innovation
Cris De Luca leads life sciences giant Johnson & Johnson’s effort to establish a connection to Massachusetts’ startup community in Kendall Square. It’s similar to past work he’s done internally at Novartis and externally leading the Boston chapter of the pitch event / startup community, Ultra Light Startups. So far, through its Innovation Center in Kendall, J&J has formed partnerships with more than 50 Boston-area entities.
Convergent Dental has been replacing dentist’s drills with a laser since 2014, when its dental laser became the first such system to win FDA approval. Since then, it’s been proving that dentists would ditch the drill for a tool seen as less likely to terrify patients, which enables dentists to perform some procedures without bleeding or anesthesia. The company expects to nearly double its unit sales from 2014, it tells BostInno, fueled by $9 million in new capital it announced in March.
Intarcia is a Boston unicorn you may not have heard about if you don’t follow medtech news. In April, the company announced a $225 million round at a $5.5 billion valuation for its tiny, implantable insulin pump to treat diabetes. In August, it announced its device, ITCA 650, had outperformed Merck & Co.’s best-selling drug, the widely used diabetes treatment, Januvia. In September, Intarcia announced its first-ever acquisition–of Phoundry, a North Carolina company that makes treatments for metabolic diseases. The Phoundry buyout could allow Intarcia to expand into obesity treatments that CEO Kurt Graves has called “bariatric surgery via mini-pump.” Intarcia is also one of the rare companies to move its headquarters from the San Francisco Bay Area to Boston, a move it made in 2014. Its headquarters are in the Seaport and it plans to double its workforce there, adding 100 jobs by the end of next year.
Jim Dougherty, Madaket
Jim Dougherty and his co-founders at Madaket wanted to collaborate on something in health IT, but the three of them had had little exposure to the medical field. What could they do without a stitch of medical knowledge that would still revolutionize the health care sector? Administration was their answer. Madaket’s software acts as a liaison between doctors and insurance companies. A health care provider fills out a standard form once, for multiple insurers, making the process more efficient on both sides. It’s been adding medical practices at a rate of about 3,000 a day. Read more.
Julie Yoo, Kyruus
Kyruus applies data science to health care providers’ patient referral systems. It’s a little like ITA Software, the Cambridge company that developed the engine behind many travel-search sites. Instead of parsing airline ticketing systems for the best flight, Kyruus searches across scheduling systems, electronic health records and databases of doctors’ billings, ratings and claims, to identify the best physician for a job. Co-founder and chief product officer Julie Yoo started her career at Endeca, the enterprise search software company that was eventually acquired by Oracle for $1.1 billion. She later led product management at Knome, the private arm of George Church’s Personal Genome Project, and was VP of clinical product strategy at Generation Health. Kyruus raised $25 million back in September.
Kevin Hrusovsky, Quanterix
Quanterix makes a medical device that measures the tiniest concentrations of proteins in the blood, detecting diseases and injuries ranging from cancer to Alzheimers to concussions. Its latest application is in sports fitness, testing for proteins typically found in spinal fluid to measure whether someone has had a concussion. Quanterix received a $500,000 grant from GE and the NFL to search for these telltale biomarkers. Its CEO and chairman, Kevin Hruvosky, estimates that sales of reagents it manufactures for testing, combined with sales of its $150,000 device and licensing of its diagnostic technology, could propel Quanterix to $150 million in revenue within five years. With that in mind, Hruvosky says he’s preparing for an eventual IPO.
Maxwell Health raised $26.4 million for its employee health benefits platform last December and it hasn’t looked back. At the start of 2014, it had just over a dozen people. Today it employs 156. This year so far, Maxwell has signed customers including Sun Life Financial, Metlife, Reliance Standard, MassMutual, Guardian, ID Watchdog, Kashable, Care.com and HealthAdvocate. It touts a diverse employee group: 52% women, with 35% of leadership roles held by women. It’s now raised $36.4 million, total.
MC10 grabbed headlines in 2013 via a partnership with Reebok to develop Checklight, a wearable impact monitor used by athletes to help detect concussions. But it’s already moved on. An investor told us MC10 is shifting away from sports and fitness tech, to focus full-time on health-care applications for its technology. To that end, it’s inked two partnerships so far: one with University of Rochester’s Hajim School of Engineering and the other with the Belgian pharma UCB.
Medication adherence is a serious problem. Patients who don’t take their medicine as directed are part of a multi-billion-dollar problem in controlling health care costs. Medisafe aims to address that problem with a user-friendly portfolio of mobile apps. This year so far, its user base has nearly doubled, growing from 1.3 million to 2.2 million across Amazon, Android and Apple smartphones and tablets. Medisafe’s apps have 85,000 user reviews, averaging 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Apple and Google Play stores. The company has done this on a $6.1 million Series A Round led by Pitango Venture Capital, with Qualcomm Ventures, 7Wire Ventures, lool Ventures and TriVentures, raised at the beginning of this year. With the funds, Medisafe moved from Israel to the Boston area. In May, we named Medisafe one of the Boston area’s best Apple Watch apps.
This company improves employee resilience in the workplace with a mobile app to measure stress and set action plans for reducing it. At the beginning of the year, meQuilibrium raised $9 million in funding led by Safeguard Scientific with participation from Chrysalis Ventures. Since June 2014, the company’s client roster has quadrupled, covering companies that range from mid-size businesses to the Fortune 500.
In January, Moderna raised the largest single round of venture capital ever taken in by a biotech–$450 million with Invus, RA Capital Management, Viking Global Investors and Wellington Management Co. Existing investors AstraZeneca and Alexion Pharmaceuticals also participated in the funding round to bring Moderna’s messenger RNA technology into human trials. At the time, Moderna said it turned away some investors who might have pushed it to IPO soon: The company plans to remain private for now. Why are investors so eager to put their money into a high-risk, long-term investment? Its technology would effectively turn the human body into a biopharma manufacturing facility, triggering the patient to produce its own disease-curing drugs. Cancer and heart disease are among the possible applications. In October, Moderna launched its fourth spinoff, Caperna, focused on “personalized” mRNA vaccines for cancer. Caperna joins Valera, Onkaido, and Elpidera, each seeded with $20 million from Moderna’s $840 million war chest. Essentially, the firm has become a biotech incubator, based in Boston.
Myomo is a turnaround story that is beginning to show some success. The company’s robotic arm is like “power steering” for people with neurological disabilities who have trouble using their limbs for simple tasks, like drinking a soda. Initially, it won FDA approval to sell it to rehabilitation clinics for use in physical therapy. That turned out to be a tough sell and Myomo pivoted to sell its device in the home. In May, the company announced a $5 million Series B-1 round with its existing investors, including Mountain Group Capital.
Ovuline is a fertility service that uses mobile apps and software to help couples track fertility and conceive (or not conceive) children. Founded in 2012 by a Harvard Business School student out of his own experience trying to start a family, the startup raised its largest round of funding yet, $3.2 million, earlier this year, from Blue Cross Blue Shield. So far, the 25-person company touts 3 million women who have used its service and 500,000 pregnancies reported, with three new pregnancies reported every minute. The company’s fertility and pregnancy apps are among the top-ranked medical apps on the Apple Store and Google Play.
Since it raised $50 million in venture capital this year, Somerville-based PillPack has become the company to beat if you’re a would-be disruptor of the retail pharmacy industry. Just a couple years ago, PillPack was a Techstars company with a hopeful story of a founder whose parent was a druggist. It’s active in 42 states, last we counted, reaching a market potential of 30 million Americans who take five or more medications daily. PillPack partnered early with IDEO in Boston on a design that makes it easier to take all those pills at the right times, in the right doses.
Seniorlink has been providing services for in-home caregivers since 2005. When an elder has multiple caregivers, it can be tough to collaborate across different institutions and areas of medicine. To meet that challenge, Seniorlink is developing software billed as Slack for families caring for elderly relatives. Last year, Seniorlink bought the assets of Vayu Technologies, a telemedicine platform that focuses on interdisciplinary teams. They’ve been building on that and other technology with a product team led by former Bit9 CEO George Kassabgi, a Progress Software veteran.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story used the wrong photo next to the section on Julie Yoo. It’s been replaced with the right one.