Investors recently poured $25 million into BrightInsight that is looking to create a go-to software platform that can harvest and use information from connected medical devices and drug-delivery systems.
The Series A funding round, led by Eclipse Ventures and New Leaf Venture Partners, is the first significant outside investment for the San Jose, California, startup which was created by technology contract manufacturer Flex and spun out in August as an independent company. Flex remains a significant owner, but its stake has not been disclosed.
The founders of BrightInsight have been working for several years on the platform, known technically as a software as a service internet of things platform. It is designed for pharmaceutical and medtech companies that want their devices and drug-delivery systems to talk to each other and generate usable information.
“This doesn’t have to be a problem that each company solves on its own,” said Dr. Kal Patel, co-founder and CEO of BrightInsight, who is a former Flex employee. Its platform is available in the U.S. and the European Union. The new funding, he added, will help the company expand elsewhere. It has its eyes on Australia, Canada, China and Japan. BrightInsight has about 200 employees.
Patel sees the BrightInsight platform functioning as a sort of plumbing that can support connected devices from a range of companies. Other platforms may facilitate communication and data-gathering. But Patel declared that BrightInsight differs in the stricter regulatory standards it meets, which makes it more versatile.
A less-stringently regulated system could collect data from a continuous glucose monitor and make recommendations for insulin doses, for example, Patel said. But a doctor would need to sign off on the doses. BrightInsight adheres to higher standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other national regulators, meaning that insulin doses recommended by its system could go right to the patient, as long as regulators have signed off on all the products and therapies involved.
“That is what makes us medical-grade and focused on the use cases that pharma and medtech are moving into,” said Patel, who has experience building a similar system for Amgen.
Early adopters of the platform include diabetes care company Novo Nordisk and pharmaceutical giant Roche. Novo Nordisk has picked BrightInsight as its global digital health partner for developing innovative diabetes-care products. BrightInsight collaborated with Roche on the development of a web-based dosing calculator to treat patients with Hemophilia A. The calculator determines correct doses of the drug emicizumab, which can help prevent bleeding episodes in people with the disease.
Other companies also have been working to incorporate their products into the BrightInsight platform, Patel said, but he declined to name them. He said it makes more sense for companies to tap an independent solution than to build their own, as it would divert resources from their core products.
An independent system also would allow devices to talk to each other, regardless of who makes them, Patel said a reference to the interoperability problem especially in the medical devices world. “What we’re trying to do is establish ourselves as the default medical-grade platform.”
As digital tools proliferate in health care, more companies are likely to need the kind of platform created by BrightInsight, said Vijay Lathi, a co-founder and managing director of New Leaf Venture Partners, which has offices in New York City and Menlo Park, California.
And no real competitors seem to exist at the moment, added Lathi, who has joined BrightInsight’s board of directors. The challenge for BrightInsight will be winning over customers who may not yet see the need, Lathi said, though he thinks it is just a matter of time.
“You would be hard-pressed today to find a pharmaceutical company that denies the importance of connected devices and connected therapies,” Lathi said. “It just is a matter of whether or how much it is an internal priority. If not yet, it will be within two to three years.”