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Zephyr Health brings data analytics to life sciences, picks up $15M

Above: Zephyr Health's Voyager application for viewing physician profiles.

Image Credit: Zephyr Health

Zephyr Health, the latest in a string of companies offering big data analytics to shake-up what has been a technology-resistant healthcare industry, has raised $15 million of venture funding.

Zephyr maps the locations of hospitals and clinics that could be open to working with a specific drug, which could help marketers determine the best places for them to focus their efforts. Another of its applications provides detailed profiles of doctors that might be interested in drugs in trials. Still another one charts the differences in the patients who take a drug in trial, so researchers can measure effectiveness among different populations.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Jafco Ventures co-led the round. The new money will help Zephyr add to its engineering capabilities and build sales and marketing operations, Zephyr’s founder and chief executive, William King, told VentureBeat. But that doesn’t mean the company will be entering industries other than health care anytime soon.

“We’re not going to an oil and gas company on Monday and health care company on Tuesday and an insurance company on Wednesday with a product that’s generic enough to serve all three of those,” King said. ” … In fact, with our technology, in theory, it would be very straightforward for us to go to other verticals, but were going to remain focused in life sciences. The reason we’re going to do that is … we see the value of the applications being specific for life sciences.”

Five of the largest drug and medical-device companies have signed up as paying Zephyr customers, King said.

The company stands out among big data analytics startups by focusing so much on life sciences. And yet, those with a much less general bent have picked up funding rounds in the past few months, including BIME Analytics, Datameer, and Numerify. Perhaps Zephyr’s $15 million raise will be a large enough number to persuade analytics startups to tailor their software to more specific uses.

King worked for more than five years at Johnson & Johnson, where he sought to identify which physicians would be interested in certain therapies, among other tasks. At times, he said, the company had 20 or 30 different data sets it wanted to bring together. “The processes we had in place were time consuming and required a fair amount of budget,” King said. “There was no obvious medium to make that happen.”

He established Zephyr in 2011. “We’ve integrated several thousand different types of data, different sources of data,” King said. But data integration is only one piece of the puzzle. From there, Zephyr turns over the data to its proprietary applications purpose-built to handle life sciences information.

The programs run in browsers, and some mobile support is available.

The company has offices in San Francisco and London, with about 40 employees at the moment, King said.

The $15 million round comes on top of $1 million Zephyr raised last year from investor Gary Hromadko, King said.

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