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Evidence Partners gets $20M to automate literature reviews

Sarah Pringle
Aug 9, 2022
Illustration of a laptop with the screen made out of a bookshelf.
Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Evidence Partners, an AI-enabled literature review startup, has pulled in $20 million in growth financing, CEO Peter O'Blenis tells Axios.

Why it matters: Systemic literature reviews are vital to conducting evidence-based research, but are historically done manually — an often laborious and time-consuming process that is susceptible to error.

Details: Led by Thomvest Ventures, with participation from Pender Ventures and Export Development Canada, the fundraise is Evidence Partners' first external capital infusion.

  • Proceeds will go toward people and R&D, as well as driving growth in existing markets and other non-life sciences areas that are applicable, Thomvest partner Andrew Pinkerton says.

How it works: Applying automation, the Canadian startup aims to improve the accuracy and affordability of this antiquated process. Evidence Partners' DistillerSR platform automates every aspect of a literature review, which is used to refine a data set to support questions or arguments that are made in research.

  • The company claims that it works with 60%-plus of the largest pharmaceutical and medical device companies, in addition to contract research organizations, government agencies like the FDA, and universities.
  • DistillerSR has seen double-digit growth since its 2009 launch, and today works with more than 300 of the world's leading research companies, it says.
  • In an environment taking a more balanced approach to growth, DistillerSR's high net value retention signals the company's market value, Pinkerton says.

State of play: Demand for systematic reviews is growing broadly speaking, fueled by the growth of the end market and the labor constraints of its customer base, O'Blenis says.

  • The EU recently put into effect new regulation (EU-MDR) such that any company selling medical devices in Europe needs to obtain and update literature reviews on an annual basis.
  • Plus, to ensure product safety, the rules after a product is in market are more stringent. "Organizations that have never had to [do literature reviews] are now compelled to," O'Blenis says.
  • In the non-medical device arena, "the volume of scientific literature is increasing exponentially, and staying on top of it is almost impossible without AI," the CEO adds. "There are not enough qualified people to do this work."

The bottom line: Evidence Partners may have a first-mover advantage as the market creator around automation of this process.

  • "As we're growing, we are uncovering all sorts of adjacent markets," that are driven by its customer base, the CEO says.
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