Mayo Spin-Off Ambient Clinical Analytics Eyes Euro Markets with Dutch Backer
Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator tenant Ambient Clinical Analytics has landed a $1.5 million venture financing round and plans to use the proceeds to expand its sales and distribution network into the European market, its CEO says.
As in its previous financings, Mayo Clinic Ventures was a participant – not surprising since the digital health start-up was co-founded by five Mayo clinicians using artificial intelligence technology licensed from the Rochester institution for its AWARE Critical Care clinical decision support system.
But the new element this time is the participation a European venture partner: the Noaber Foundation of Lunteren, the Netherlands. The investment firm led the latest round and will be tapped to provide an entry into the European market for AWARE, Ambient CEO Allen Berning told TCB.
“The Noaber Foundation and its venture investment arm, Noaber Ventures, were already acquainted with the digital health innovations coming out of the Mayo Clinic through their earlier investment in VitalHealth Software,” he said. “And in our case, we were also really interested in establishing a sales and distribution network in Europe.”
A strong connection between Dutch investors and Mayo Clinic spin-offs was first demonstrated by VitalHealth, founded in 2006 as a joint venture between Mayo and the Noaber Foundation. A provider of cloud-based solutions for collaborative health management, its chairman was Mayo gastroenterologist and medical school professor Dr. Nicholas LaRusso, who was based in Minnesota, while its CEO was Laurens van der Tang, based in Amsterdam.
In December, VitalHealth was sold to Dutch medical technology giant Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG) for an undisclosed amount.
Like VitalHealth, Ambient Clinical Analytics is also a digital health firm spun off from Mayo Clinic research and already has a connection to Philips. Currently based in the Clinic’s downtown Rochester startup incubator, its product is the AWARE patient monitoring software, which aggregates and organizes once-scattered vital patient information into a single, easy-to-read interface, which it says results in reduced errors, lower health care costs, and better patient outcomes.
Ambient first received FDA 510(k) pre-market clearance for AWARE (which stands for Ambient Warning and Response Evaluation) in 2015. The next year, Philips announced it was rolling out the AWARE dashboard, renamed the IntelliSpace Critical Care Console, as a key upgrade to its line of critical-care patient monitors.
Now, with the Noaber venture investment, Berning said he’s aiming to tap his own experience at expansion into international markets initially honed during his stint as CEO of Rochester-based electronics manufacturer Pemstar Inc. during the 1990s and 2000s.
“At Pemstar, we expanded into Europe and set up multiple facilities, first in the Netherlands through an acquisition there, and later into Ireland and Romania,” Berning said. “We were looking for an anchor partner with whom we could start working and who already understood the dynamics of the European health IT market.”
Along with Noaber and Mayo, early investors Social Capital and Bluestem Capital also joined the financing round.
Meanwhile, Berning said Ambient is experiencing a bump in demand for its Sepsis DART product, which detects and provides digital guidance for treating sepsis, a potentially life-threatening complication of infection. That’s because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is preparing to release new guidelines on quality-of-care measurements for reimbursing sepsis treatments and Ambient’s DART system is the only FDA-approved digital health solution for improving sepsis outcomes.
Sepsis occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight the infection trigger inflammatory responses throughout the body. This inflammation can in turn cause multiple organ systems to fail, sometimes leading to death.
“We have the ability to make sure the sepsis treatment can be completed during a three-to-six-hour time windows which will be called for under the CMS guidelines,” he said.