Australian healthtech startup HealthMatch has raised $18m in a round led by venture capital fund Square Peg, with early backer Tempus Partners doubling down. New investors in the company include the family office of former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and Lucy Turnbull, former chair of listed Australian biotechnology company Immutep as well as Singapore’s January Capital who join a string of existing high profile angels and medical experts investing in the company.

The company has now raised over $25m since founding in late 2017, with its Series B round being one of Australia’s largest healthtech deals in 2020.

HealthMatch says it will use the funds to rapidly expand through Asia and continue to expand its product.

Despite originally not planning to raise capital in 2020, the clinical trial matching platform has experienced strong growth with its user base growing from 8,000 in June 2020 to 80,000 at the start of December, representing a 10x uplift in patients using the service to access clinical trials in less than six months.

HealthMatch’ says its user growth has led to the company now placing over 2,000 patients a month into clinical trials which range from cancer to eczema in the hope to provide patients with access to new, not-yet-approved treatments and ultimately accelerate innovative therapies to standard care sooner.

The company now wants to leverage its track record of success in reducing clinical trial recruitment timeframes which has had the eye of many large pharmaceutical companies, biotechs and research organisations.

“What has been incredibly rewarding this year, is to not just see thousands of patients signup and access clinical trials but to see this translate to quicker recruitment outcomes for medical research. Not only are patients gaining access to potentially revolutionary new treatments but we are seeing evidence of increasing the speed of the entire drug development process,” said Manuri Gunawardena, (pictured) CEO and Founder of HealthMatch.

Manuri Gunawardena, (pictured) CEO and Founder of HealthMatch

“Through HealthMatch we have seen entire trials which were taking up to 18 months for recruitment to be completed in one month. If you look at the follow on effects of quicker recruitment it means that millions of people can potentially access a life-changing treatment years earlier – all through connecting people that are interested in participating in a trial now.”

Gunawardena said, “We were determined to build a product that focussed firstly on the patient experience and we are now seeing the value of this. We have a crystal clear roadmap of how we can continue to deliver on this vision and expand our benefit to patients. We have global ambitions to be a champion for patients in their healthcare journey.”

The company has rapid growth plans with an ambition to expand into Singapore and continue to grow from its team of 20 to over 80 in the coming 12 months. Whilst hiring will be across all company functions there will be a strong focus in securing more best-in-class engineering and medical talent.

“We have been blown away by the number of applications for roles coming through the website. It’s clear that there are deep pools of talent who are ambitious and experienced in building global technology companies from Australia.”

Lucy Turnbull AO will bring her deep network and industry expertise from her time as chair of Australian biotech Immutep (previously Prima Biomed).

“Recruitment for clinical trials is often quite a challenge and by removing barriers HealthMatch is helping advance medical research,” said Lucy Turnbull AO at Turnbull Family office.

Other tech heavyweight investors joining this round include Eugene Fooksman, Whatsapp’s founding engineer and Dr. Brandon & Nicky Carp, founders of Unified Healthcare Group.

“The phenomenal user growth, significantly reduced recruitment timelines and placement success are proof of Manuri’s vision that a patient-centered experience could change the landscape of clinical trials, said Alister Colema, Managing partner at Tempus Partners.

“In addition to making a positive impact on people’s lives, HealthMatch is quickly becoming a lighthouse for the new generation of globally scalable healthtech companies started by ambitious Australian and New Zealand founders.”

Co-founder and Partner at Square Peg, Paul Bassat, said, “HealthMatch is a great example of how patient-centric design in healthcare can radically improve the efficacy and speed of new drug and treatment development. The team has done an amazing job to manage explosive growth over the past year, and has proven again that globally significant startups can be built from Australia. We are passionate believers in their mission, and look forward to supporting Manuri as she continues to scale the team and their geographic reach.”

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