Life sciences startup Power emerges from stealth with $7M in funding to improve access to clinical trial studies
One of the lessons learned from the pandemic is how research institutions, governments, and pharmaceutical companies worked together to quickly develop vaccines to cure the deadly coronavirus. The pandemic is a reminder of the need to accelerate clinical drug development.
Currently, 86 percent of U.S. clinical trials are delayed because of a lack of enrollment, creating a massive bottleneck in disease research and drug development — and costing the life science system billions of dollars. What is even more distressing is that less than 5 percent of U.S. patients ever take part in a potentially life-changing clinical trial due to opaque practices and antiquated systems. It is for this reason that one startup is on a mission to improve and modernize access to clinical trial studies.
Enter Power, a life science startup and platform that leverages proprietary AI to simplify medical jargon in the trials’ descriptions into accessible, accurate content. The Power team has been busy working behind the scenes to bring their patient-friendly platform to patients.
Today, the San Francisco-based Power announced it has emerged from stealth with $7 million in seed funding to help bring the process of discovering and accessing clinical trials into the future. The round was led by Footwork and CRV, with additional investments from ARTIS Ventures, South Park Commons, and AirAngels.
Co-founded by Brandon Li, Power’s goal is to make therapeutic options available to all patients, regardless of geographical location, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background. Its user-friendly platform makes it easy for anyone to access and navigate clinical trials. At the same time, Power solves an acute pain point for researchers and pharmaceutical organizations as it relates to clinical trial diversity and recruitment.
“Historically, clinical trials have relied on recruiting patients who are being treated at large, prestigious medical institutions and/or have active, hands-on support from a physician or patient advocate. Most other patients rely on the kindness of strangers on the internet,” said Brandon Li, Power’s co-founder. “One of our top priorities, when we started Power, was to create easy access to clinical trials for all patients who need to explore innovative treatments. It should not be as hard as it is today.”
Accessibility barriers in the clinical trial system often prevent qualified patients from participating — an issue that disproportionately impacts women, people of color, and other populations that historically have been excluded from medical research.
“We believe Power’s platform has the potential to redefine how patients engage with clinical trials,” said Nikhil Basu Trivedi, co-founder and general partner at Footwork. “This ultimately will make studies more equitable by diversifying their cohorts. Not every treatment works the same for a given demographic, so it is imperative that trials have a variety of groups represented.”
Power’s open-access platform allows patients to directly connect with research teams. In doing so, the company is working to close the gap in the patient recruitment problem and accelerate innovative medical research.
“It takes 10 to 15 years to bring a new drug to market, and despite spending billions annually on patient recruitment, fewer than 5 percent of patients participate in clinical trials. This perpetuates an already pervasive system of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ in healthcare,” said Jeff Kindler, the former CEO of Pfizer and current operating partner at ARTIS Ventures. “Today we have web portals that aggregate third-party data to help people shop for insurance, vacation rentals, and new homes. Power is applying that same technology to facilitate direct access for the other 95 percent of patients who are left to navigate the clinical trial system alone.”
Power offers a comprehensive resource for patients and their providers to search every trial currently available in the United States. Power includes over 30,000 clinical trials and 100,000 researchers spanning 10,000 medical conditions, and the company is on track to have more than 500,000 patients use the platform this year.
“Power is the fastest-growing consumer product launched in the clinical trial space,” said Kristin Baker Spohn, General Partner at CRV. “The company’s growth inflection shines thanks to its easy navigation and patient-centric philosophy. More broadly, Power is solving a fundamental problem in life sciences by enabling easier clinical trial participation for both patients and researchers.”