Healthcare data science company DrugViu is the first company to receive an investment from Riverflow Growth Fund. Riverflow, a new seed-stage venture fund based in Richmond, VA, has invested $250,000 from their first fund into DrugViu. The company aligns with Riverflow’s investment thesis of funding early to late seed-stage companies headquartered in Virginia and the broader Mid-Atlantic, with a current focus in healthcare and wellness. Riverflow co-led the round with Metrodora Ventures as part of a nationwide syndicate of funders, including Avestria Ventures, Lightspeed Ventures’ Scout Fund, Techstars, Rise of the Rest Fund, Jumpstart Foundry, Cleveland Avenue, 757 Angels, and the Virginia Venture Fund. The company was also just awarded New York City’s prestigious The David Prize.
“DrugViu possesses the attributes of a company poised for rapid scale and success – a humbly confident and passionate team, large market opportunity, unique value proposition, and name brand customers that are impressive for a company this early,” said Paul Nolde, Riverflow’s managing director. “We are excited to be a part of this funding round, and, along with the other investors, are fully committed to helping cofounders Kwaku Owusu and Melanie Igwe grow their team and execute on the growth priorities that lay ahead.”
Cofounder and CEO Kwaku Owusu added, “DrugViu was looking for a strategic investor that could provide more than capital. RFG is the type of investor any startup could hope for. They have provided key introductions and guidance that have been really helpful to our team. Paul Nolde and RFG as a fund have shown a dedication to DrugViu that gives us confidence that we have made an excellent decision to have them lead our round.”
DrugViu offers an AI-driven population health platform that is enhancing and expanding the clinical trial data set of immunology health and medication outcomes for diverse populations. Minorities make up less than 10% of clinical trial participants despite making up roughly 40% of the U.S. population, and common drugs affect minorities differently than their White counterparts. DrugViu’s mission is to collect evidence from underrepresented populations to create a more robust understanding of these conditions and help researchers and pharmaceutical companies develop more effective drugs.
Owusu and Melanie Igwe, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, had previously founded Ilerasoft, a medtech company that built a credit score for medical device inventory management. During that time, they were invited to speak on an FDA panel focusing on the use of technology to accelerate and enhance the post-trial phase of medical devices. A fellow panelist started to talk about the lack of representation of diverse populations in the medical device and pharma testing space, and the idea for DrugViu was born. They started out agnostic to disease type, focusing on post-clinical outcome data to inform pre-clinical decision-making. However, Kwaku and Melanie noticed that the autoimmune population was more engaged in what they were doing, so they pivoted to focus solely on autoimmune conditions. The company’s platform collects authenticated, user-generated health profiles from minority populations that, when paired with deidentified EHR data from health systems, optimizes the exclusion/inclusion criteria for clinical trials. At scale DrugViu’s platform will be able to look at insights into sub-population reactions to identify a new indication of the same medication to be released down the road. To increase the number of minority participants in a clinical trial, DrugViu has also built a proprietary Diverse Clinician Network (“DCN”). The DCN is designed to engage specialists who see concentrated instances of reactions in various populations, who in turn will refer their patients to the DrugViu platform. This lowers the participant acquisition cost and instills upfront trust in populations who have historically been skeptical of the healthcare system, a primary cause of participant “fallout” at the informed consent stage of a clinical trial.
DrugViu will be moving its company headquarters from New York City to Northern Virginia in March, but will keep an engineering team at Johnson and Johnson’s JLABs incubator in NYC, of which they are a select member.