Cromatic Closes $5.3 Million in Oversubscribed Seed Round to Modernize Life Science R&D Outsourcing

Proprietary outsourcing platform aims to get biotechs off the ground with fast and seamless CRO matching

Summation

  • The explosion of biotech in the last decade has seen a doubling of the number of drug candidates under development, with many emerging biotechs outsourcing up to 90% of R&D and operating as “virtual” companies.
  • While founders of tech giants like Apple and Google could build their products in garages with minimal resources, founders in biotech are confronted with the capital expense of lab space and equipment and the lengthy process of building the right team before they can even test their ideas.
  • Cromatic is spearheading a biotech revolution by bringing outsourced R&D all under one roof with a marketplace of vetted CROs and a suite of project management tools for contracted projects.

Cromatic, a full-stack digital platform for outsourced life sciences research, today announced it has closed $5.3 million in funding. LifeX Ventures and AgFunder led the round with participation from Work Life Ventures, Not Boring Capital, FJ Labs, What If Ventures, Lux Capital, and angel investors.

The demand for biotech and pharmaceutical R&D outsourcing is growing rapidly and is expected to be worth $275 billion by 2030. The explosion of biotech in the last decade has seen a doubling of the number of drug candidates under development, with many emerging biotechs outsourcing up to 90% of R&D and operating as “virtual” companies. Across the industry—from small virtual biotechs to large pharma—drug developers are managing R&D costs, addressing capacity constraints, and accessing innovation by outsourcing activities that were historically handled in-house. However, the outsourced R&D service market is highly fragmented and rife with challenges for scientists and procurement departments. Finding the right R&D partner can take months and many projects fail due to poor communication and project management. Cromatic is on a mission to tackle these challenges.

Cromatic’s seamless matching platform helps biotech companies connect with vetted CROs in less than 24 hours. The platform includes a suite of software tools for communication, collaboration, project and management along with a fully integrated payment solution. In the few months since the launch of its platform, Cromatic has over $15 million in R&D budget under management and has established partnerships with leading biotech accelerators, including Nucleate, SOSV, and ValleyDAO. In recognition of its rapid growth, Cromatic was spotlighted as one of the top 40 TechBio companies in Decoding Bio Snapshot 2023.

Ann Lin, co-founder and CEO of Cromatic said, “Outsourcing R&D is one of the most powerful ways for innovative biotech companies to get off the ground. While founders of tech giants like Apple and Google could build their products in garages with minimal resources, founders in biotech are confronted with the capital expense of lab space and equipment and the lengthy process of building the right team before they can even test their ideas. That’s why we are building the most powerful R&D outsourcing platform for biotechs, so that scientists will have clarity, confidence and choice when evaluating and managing their service providers. Ultimately, we want to enable biotech companies to start in garages, just like tech giants.”

“Our mission at Cromatic is deeply rooted in leveraging technology to reshape the landscape of biotech research,” says Anne Chen, Cromatic co-founder and CTO. “By bridging the gap between scientific innovation and efficient outsourcing, we’re not only empowering scientists to bring their ideas to life but also revolutionizing the speed at which life-changing discoveries reach the world. We’re paving the way for a new era of agile and resource-efficient biotech development.”

“We’ve seen incredible growth in the outsourced R&D market, but scientists still spend an inordinate amount of time on administrative tasks rather than value-add experimentation,” said Inaki Berenguer, Managing Partner at LifeX Ventures. “The full stack solution—from matching, contract management, data exchange, project tracking and payments—is the right approach to accelerate and democratize the research process, bringing life-saving drugs faster to market. Ann’s first-hand experience of the struggles to find trusted R&D partners provides a unique perspective and network within the industry. We’re excited to partner with Cromatic as they continue to scale up.”

“The outsourced R&D landscape is a mess,” said Andrew Finkelstein, a VC at AgFunder. “It’s a patchwork of globally hard-to-find specialists, manual workflows, and custom software; and it’s driving up the cost of innovation. Cromatic is spearheading a biotech revolution by bringing outsourced R&D all under one roof with a marketplace of vetted CROs and a suite of project management tools for contracted projects. From crop development and cancer therapeutics to food safety, Cromatic supports the technologies that are reshaping human and planetary health.”

“Big Pharma is increasingly outsourcing innovation to the biotech sector,” said Elliot Hershberg, Biotech Partner at Not Boring. “Now, two out of three drugs that come to market began life in smaller companies. During this transition, there’s been an outpouring of R&D talent into CROs. Cromatic is harnessing this newfound capacity in a coherent platform for a new generation of nimble and capital-efficient biotech companies. We anticipate that in the coming years, real research breakthroughs will happen on Cromatic’s platform.”

This funding round will fast track Cromatic’s product roadmap for biotechs and CROs, forge strategic partnerships and expand its team across product, engineering, sales and customer success.

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