By Ludwig Burger
(Reuters) - Ireland's Teckro, which makes software that allows physicians to take part in drug development trials from mobile devices, has won $25 million (19 million pounds) in financial backing from investors, as it hatches longer-term plans for a stock market listing.
A fund managed by Bill Maris, the former head of Google's venture capital arm, as well as Founders Fund, an early backer of SpaceX and Airbnb, took part in the latest funding round, it said on Thursday.
It will allow Teckro to expand internationally and develop its machine-learning based digital platform, which it sells to drugmakers.
The drug companies, in turn, make the software available to physicians and nurses involved in the clinical development studies they sponsor.
Testing on humans is by far the most expensive part of bringing experimental drugs to market.
Those costs are rising as the science behind the drug becomes more complex and Teckro says it can simplify the process by moving some of the paperwork into digital form and by allowing doctors to quickly retrieve information.
"It's really about providing answers to day-to-day questions any doctor and nurse may have in the context of a clinical trial in an instant," said co-founder and Chief Executive Gary Hughes.
The healthcare industry is quickly adopting digital business models, using tools from computer-aided molecular drug design to artificial intelligence to analyse patients' treatment history or genetic code.
Pharma majors Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer have created the role of chief digital officer over the past two years.
Teckro's system is already used by more than 10,000 healthcare practitioners and its commercial customers include global pharma majors as well as smaller biotech firms, said Hughes. He declined to provide names.
The latest round takes Teckro's total funding to $43 million. Hughes declined to say what percentage in the company the investors received in return or what price tag the transaction puts on the entire company.
If the administrative hassle of clinical trials can be reduced more community hospitals will eventually be able to participate in them, he added.
While Teckro's three founders sold a previous venture, Firecrest, in 2011, Hughes vowed that they have longer-term ambitions for Teckro, which was founded in 2015.
"This time our ambition is to go all the way. An IPO (initial public offering) is potentially out there. We don't have a specific time frame in mind, other than we're thinking long term for Teckro."
(Reporting by Ludwig Burger, editing by Louise Heavens)