Akkure Genomics, an Irish digital health scaleup which is developing a disruptive MedTech platform for the global clinical trials industry, has raised just over €1.2 million in a crowdfunding campaign from 318 investors. The company, which used the Spark Crowdfunding platform, secured the funding in just 12-days before completing its campaign.
The company had originally set itself a 35-day target to raise €500,000.
The funding will be used by Akkure Genomics to accelerate the roll-out of its next-generation clinical trials platform with a view to launching into the US market in the next 12 to 18 months. This platform provides members of the general public with a means of leveraging their personal genetic and clinical data to match and participate in clinical trials relevant to their condition.
Clinical trials are the principal method that medical researchers use to establish if a new treatment, such as a new drug or medical device is safe and effective in people. While over 280,000 clinical trials are performed annually around the world, 85% of them fail to enrol enough patients and 80% of them fail to finish on time. This is a major problem for an industry that is worth $60 billion annually, a figure that is now growing considerably due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
To solve such systemic issues Akkure Genomics has developed a clinical trials platform, using natural language processing and artificial intelligence (AI), to match patients with relevant clinical trials. By using both precision medicine and virtual trials the Akkure platform increases both the recruitment and retention of patients which benefits both pharmaceutical companies performing clinical trials and patients seeking new therapies or cures.
Simultaneously the company is deploying its patented robotic process automated telemedicine and clinical consultation technology to facilitate virtual and remote trial participation allowing global access for patients to clinical trials.
Akkure Genomics was founded in 2019 by Professor Oran Rigby, a consultant in intensive care medicine and surgery and an associate professor of robotics and autonomous systems, along with Dr Amy Hollingworth, an Australian respiratory and lung transplant consultant specialist.
The company, with a rapidly growing staff of 12, is headquartered at NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs at University College Dublin (UCD) and has previously secured €1.3 million in funding. This funding has been secured through the Disruptive Technology Innovation Fund (DTIF) and Enterprise Ireland.
To achieve a crowdfunding result of €1.2 million in just over a week demonstrates the untapped desire for patients to begin to influence and partake in clinical trials, for the benefit of both themselves and their patient communities. We will now begin to focus in earnest on offering these benefits and services to Irish charities, doctors and patient groups."
Professor Oran Rigby, CEO and Co-Founder, Akkure Genomics
Chris Burge, CEO, Spark Crowdfunding, said, "Congratulations to Akkure on a very successful crowdfunding campaign. We were delighted to provide Irish small and medium sized investors with this high calibre investment opportunity through our platform. The Akkure value-proposition has the potential to be a disruptive force in the clinical trials industry globally and we wish the team every success for the future."
Dr Amy Hollingworth, Medical Director and co-founder, Akkure Genomics said, "We have been overwhelmed by support and belief in our mission, a tremendous reflection on the exciting future opportunities Akkure Genomics will unlock for patient collectives seeking new cures and therapies at a precision medical level."
Professor John Crown, a senior consultant medical oncologist and cancer trials expert at St. Vincent's University Hospital, who was recently appointed Chair of Akkure's Medical Research Board said, "Congratulations to the Akkure team and its partners, Enterprise Ireland and Spark Crowdfunding on a highly successful campaign."
He added, "Akkure's focus is to empower patients, and this exciting collective investment has given us an opportunity to acquire a part of a new next generation digital infrastructure for genomic and precision medicine clinical trials."
Last year Akkure Genomics developed and launched the COVIDMedBot, a free online COVID-19 self-assessment tool, which to date has been used by approximately 90,000 people.
In December 2019 the company, along with FutureNeuro, the SFI Research Centre for Chronic and Rare Neurological Diseases hosted at RCSI, Microsoft Ireland and Ergo secured €3.9 million in funding through the DTIF. They secured this funding towards a €6.3 million project to develop a blockchain and AI-enabled stratified trial system which aims to better recruit and reward patients for international clinical trials and data sharing. Akkure has sole commercialisation rights for this technology project.
Equity crowdfunding allows hundreds of small and medium sized investors to purchase shares in early-stage companies. It operates in much the same way as Dragons' Den where companies pitch for investment and the 'crowd' decides if it wishes to invest or not.
Spark Crowdfunding has now completed 16 fundraising campaigns for Irish early-stage companies since it launched in 2018. Campaign sizes have ranged from €100,000 to €1.2 million with the average investment amount of €2,100.