Sudbury-based healthtech startup Verv has secured $3.8 million CAD in seed funding from United Kingdom vitro diagnostics company Randox Laboratories.
Peter Fitzgerald, founder and managing director of Randox, will join Verv’s board of directors.
Founded in 2012 by Jeff Sutton, Verv is developing an at-home blood testing kit named Vi. With a finger prick of blood, Verv claims that its blood plasma separator provides the appropriate blood sample for analysis.
As reported by Northern Ontario Business, Verv conducted a consumer survey with more than a thousand respondents last spring that found people across the United States and Canada want the convenience, safety, and speed of at-home blood testing kits.
The survey reported that 66 percent of its respondents said they want to test their own blood from home, and that 69 percent said that the COVID-19 pandemic has made them more interested in managing their health from home using new services and technologies.
Self-testing kits open new methods for consumers to monitor their health in any location. A wide range of self-testing kits has become available in the market, including tests for colon cancer, hepatitis C, declining vision, urinary tract infections, and blood pressure monitoring.
According to Future Market Insights, the demand for self-testing kits is predicted to reach a valuation of $11.55 billion USD by 2030.
Verv’s finger prick of blood process may sound similar to that of Theranos, which in 2018, was charged by the United States Security and Exchange Commission with fraud for making false claims that its at-home blood testing technology only required small amounts of blood to conduct hundreds of tests. However, Verv focuses on just a handful of tests, according to its website.
Victoria Coleman, Verv’s vice president of business development, told CBC last year that while that technology wasn’t possible in 2018, the technology has come a long way.
“What Theranos showed us was with the billions they raised in value that the desire is there,” she said in an interview with the outlet. “There’s no question that the proof of concept as far as wanting this has been confirmed.”
Verv’s technology can be connected via smartphone and is able to deliver the test results within 15 minutes, according to the company.
The startup’s website notes that its kit is currently in its engineering phase, and Verv expects to complete regulatory processes over the next year. Last year, CBC reported that the startup stated expectations that it would complete its prototype in October 2021, and have the kit available to consumers in 2022.
According to the company, this latest injection of capital from Randox will help Verv to accelerate the commercialization of its products, and expand the suite of tests for consumers, in addition to completing regulatory processes.
Fitzgerald said that Randox has a shared vision and belief in Vev’s microfluidics approach to creating low-cost blood testing technology for healthcare consumers.
Randox develops diagnostic solutions for hospitals, clinical, research and molecular labs, food testing, and more. It claims that its technology is used in over four billion tests annually in over 145 countries.
Last year, Verv secured $140,000 from the National Research Council of Canada and a $500,000 grant from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation to further develop its in-home blood-testing device. The Sudbury Catalyst Fund also invested $250,000 into Verv in 2020.
Featured image from Verv Technologies’ website.