Toronto-based software startup Odaia has secured $34 million CAD ($25 million USD) in Series B financing co-led by Threshold Ventures and Monograph Capital, a pair of foreign venture capital investors focused on life sciences and healthtech companies.
While there has been plenty of application of artificial intelligence (AI) to speed up the new drug development and clinical trials processes, the one area where AI adoption has lagged, according to Odaia co-founder and CEO Philip Poulidis, is on the commercial side of the pharmaceutical industry.
“It’s still a big bottleneck,” Poulidis told BetaKit in an interview. “That flywheel can only be supported if every aspect of the [drug] launch process is also efficient.”
“We rarely see this kind of excitement and adoption.”
-Charles Conn, Monograph Capital
Per Poulidis, despite recent advances in other areas of the pharma sector—including by Canadian companies like Vancouver AI drug discovery firm AbCellera—the process of getting therapeutics, drugs, and vaccines to market remains both manual labour-intensive and time-consuming. In the pharma industry specifically, the data analysis used to support sales and marketing efforts is typically conducted by consulting firms over a period of time.
Odaia’s software automates this process, using AI and machine learning (ML) to collect and analyze pharma industry data sources ranging from claims to emergency medical records, population, demographic, economic, and lab data, and information regarding which doctors are prescribing which treatments. The company’s platform then provides sales and marketing teams with real-time commercial insights designed to help them focus their go-to-market (GTM) efforts.
In addition to Threshold and Monograph, Odaia’s all-equity Series B round saw participation from investor Wittington Ventures, another first-time investor in the startup. Existing backers also joined the round in Flint Capital, BDC Capital, StandUp Ventures, and Graphite Ventures. Threshold managing partner Emily Melton and Monograph co-founder and partner Charles Conn are joining Odaia’s board as directors, while Threshold principal Megan Kelly is coming on as an observer.
Poulidis declined to disclose Odaia’s valuation as part of the round, which closed in April and comes just over a year after Odaia nabbed $17.5 million CAD in Series A financing. Odaia’s Series B round brings the startup’s total funding to about $55 million CAD ($40 million USD), from a list of investors that also includes Innospark Ventures, Alumni Ventures, MaRS IAF, and Panache Ventures.
According to Poulidis, Odaia’s Series B round included secondary capital, but the CEO declined to disclose exactly how much, noting only that it was a “significant amount.” This secondary financing went towards some unnamed Odaia investors, including early angels and Canadian government accelerator funds.
Founded in 2018, Odaia was spun out of the University of Toronto by professor Periklis Andritsos, adjunct professor Helen Kontozopoulos, University of Lausanne PhD student Gael Bernard, and Poulidis. The company spent years as “a solution in search of a problem” before settling on the commercial side of the pharma industry, rolling out its platform in 2021.
Since then, Odaia has amassed a list of customers that includes some of the world’s largest pharma companies, including Janssen, Novo Nordisk, and AstraZeneca.
For his part, Conn described the pharmaceutical industry as “quite conservative,” acknowledging that some of this can be attributed to the fact that it produces drugs that have a significant impact on people’s lives, and there are huge amounts of money at stake in the decisions that pharma firms make.
“The fact that a young company like [Odaia] has seen so many big-name pharmaceutical companies sign up, tells me that it’s being recognized in the market that they’ve developed a better approach,” Conn told BetaKit. “We rarely see this kind of excitement and adoption.”
Kelly told BetaKit that the calibre of customers that Odaia has been able to attract also proved appealing to Threshold, citing the startup’s “strong customer love and great market pull” as two of the reasons why Threshold ultimately decided to invest in Odaia.
Armed with fresh funding and the support of investors like Monograph and Threshold, Odaia hopes to build on its growth over the past two years, Poulidis noted that the startup will invest primarily in expanding its GTM efforts, which will entail growing its sales and customer support teams. Per Poulidis, Odaia will also put a portion of its Series B capital towards adding some additional technical talent and developing more features and integrations.
Odaia plans to expand its presence both in North America and beyond, something Poulidis sees room for the startup to do with the help of some of its existing multinational pharma industry clients. As Odaia looks to grow, Conn expects that Monograph’s existing network of connections within the life sciences sector, and the introductions that the firm could facilitate, may aid Odaia in these efforts.
Feature image courtesy Odaia.