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Exclusive: Clinical trial tech startup uMotif collects $25.5M

May 25, 2022
Illustration of a hand pulling a 3D bottle of pills from a laptop screen.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

uMotif, a London-based eClinical startup, has raked in $25.5 million in fresh growth capital from Athyrium Capital Management, the parties tell Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: Digital capabilities and technology are increasingly catalyzing clinical research across both physical sites and decentralized trials, but study design is complex and historically taxing for patients participating.

  • “I’ve always believed that patients were getting the short end of the clinical research stick,” CEO Steve Rosenberg tells Axios. “Pharma is more concerned about what they’re going to do with patients versus how patients are experiencing clinical trials.”

Details: Rothschild advised Athyrium on the transaction.

  • Coming on the heels of the startup’s entrance into the U.S. in 2021, the funding will fuel its North American growth strategy.

How it works: uMotif’s cloud-native software platform captures eCOA (electronic clinical outcome assessment) and ePRO (electronic patient-reported outcomes) data, as well as eConsent, symptom and wearables data.

  • Boasting data capture rates north of 90%, its software is available on app stores on any device and is deployed throughout 30 countries globally.
  • uMotif works with pharma, biotech, and contract research organizations, including AstraZeneca, Abbvie and Syneos.

Between the lines: Clinical trials historically required patients to travel in-person to physical study sites, but COVID put a spotlight on the value of decentralized trials and their ability to improve patient access.

  • Technology to support that shift is increasingly crucial, but uMotif is built to accelerate and improve trials in any therapeutic area regardless of setting.
  • “There’s a lot of talk about decentralized clinical trials, but the truth is the burden of the patient is much higher in a decentralized world," Rosenberg notes.

Flashback: The funding follows a £5 million ($6.3 million) Series A round in 2020 led by AlbionVC and DNV, and a subsequent reorganization in the c-suite.

  • Rosenberg came out of retirement to become CEO in September. The industry veteran was most recently SVP and general manager of Oracle Health Sciences, and a leader at Phase Forward, which was acquired by Oracle in 2010.
  • Julia Lakeland last year was appointed chief product officer of uMotif after more than a decade at CRO giant Parexel.

State of play: The dominant players in eCOA and ePRO include Genstar Capital’s Signant Health and Clario, backed by Astorg, Nordic Capital and Novo Holdings.

  • Rosenberg believes uMotif's user interface and patient-first approach will set it apart as scales. “We compete with Medable and all those guys, but we also compete with TikTok and Instagram. It has to be fun to fill out.”
  • Investors are eager to ride the industry's growth, whether that's the large established players or proliferation of startups.

Yes, and: Medable, for its part, hit a a $2.1 billion valuation in October amid a $304 million capital infusion co-led by Blackstone Growth and Tiger Global.

  • Other high fliers in decentralized trial tech include Science 37, which went public through a $1 billion SPAC deal last year.
  • Elsewhere, Axios wrote earlier this month that Questa Capital Management’s Medrio, which provides an electronic data capture system for clinical trials, is gearing up what could be a $600 million-plus sale.

What's next: Rosenberg envisions a future for uMotif that's more than becoming just another eCOA and ePRO platform: “I call this 360 degrees of engagement. The idea is to catch [patients] at any phase and to nudge them into the next phase of managing the disease.”

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