Dublin company Akkure Genomics crowdfunds its way to €1.2m

11 Feb 2021

Prof Oran Rigby, CEO and co-founder of Akkure Genomics. Image: Paul Sharp/SharpPix

Akkure Genomics will use its latest funding round to support an expansion of its clinical trials platform.

Akkure Genomics launched a crowdfunding campaign on Spark Crowdfunding in late January. The plan was to run a 35-day campaign to reach a €500,000 target. Within one week, the company had passed €1m in crowdfunding.

The campaign has now closed with €1.2m raised by more than 300 investors. The scaling digital health company will use this funding to accelerate the roll-out of its clinical trials platform. It is targeting a US launch in the next 12 to 18 months, which this funding will support.

“To achieve a crowdfunding result of €1.2m 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,” said CEO Prof Oran Rigby.

“We will now begin to focus in earnest on offering these benefits and services to Irish charities, doctors and patient groups.”

What is Akkure Genomics?

Akkure Genomics was founded in 2019 by Rigby, a consultant in intensive care medicine and surgery and an associate professor of robotics and autonomous systems, and Dr Amy Hollingworth, an Australian respiratory and lung transplant consultant specialist.

Its platform uses natural language processing and artificial intelligence to match patients with relevant clinical trials. This matchmaking aims to increase the recruitment and retention of patients participating in trials.

Hundreds of thousands of clinical trials are performed annually around the world, with figures steadily increasing over the past decade. As many as 85pc of these trials fail to retain enough patients while 80pc don’t finish on time, according to one clinical trial whitepaper. It’s an issue Akkure Genomics says is worth $60bn annually.

Other services available from Akkure Genomics include robotic process automated telemedicine and technology to facilitate virtual and remote trial participation. This could make it easier for trials to enrol patients from around the world.

Last year, the company developed and launched the CovidMedBot, a free online Covid-19 self-assessment tool that has been used by about 90,000 people to date.

It is also involved in a collaborative research project to develop a blockchain and AI-enabled trial system, which is led by FutureNeuro, the Science Foundation Ireland research centre for chronic and rare neurological diseases.

“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,” said Prof John Crown, a senior consultant medical oncologist and cancer trials expert at St Vincent’s University Hospital and chair of Akkure’s medical research board.

Headquartered in NovaUCD, the entrepreneurship centre at University College Dublin, Akkure Genomics has a staff of 12 and says it is growing rapidly. It previously secured €1.3m in funding through the Government’s Disruptive Technology Innovation Fund and Enterprise Ireland.

Since it launched in 2018, Spark Crowdfunding has seen 16 fundraising campaigns for Irish early-stage companies completed on its platform, with an average investment amount of €2,100.

“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,” said Hollingworth.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.