When the pandemic hit, the general public was suddenly more tuned into just how vital it is for clinical trials to go efficiently. The life-saving effects of a successful Covid vaccine hung in the balance.
But even before this, thousands of patients have always been waiting for new life-saving drugs to be approved.
As a serial entrepreneur in commercial construction and real estate development, Barry Lake decided that this was one new problem that he wanted to solve.
After buying a research site himself, he realized just how fragmented the clinical trials industry was, he said. That’s where the impetus for Chapel Hill-based Devana Solutions came in.
Launching in 2016, Devana Solutions has carved out a space in the clinical trials industry as an innovator of workflow management technology. Previously, there was no truly efficient way to keep track of this.
“There was nothing until our technology to track and manage all of those milestones of studies started, except static spreadsheets,” Lake said. “So we basically said, we’ve got to automate this whole convoluted complex process for our site organizations or clients.”
Now Devana has taken this one step further. The startup’s analytics capabilities can tell a research site’s leadership how efficient the sites are and where bottlenecks pop up.
With around 40 customers to date, Devana Solutions has increased its committed annual recurring revenue (ARR) from $100,000 in 2018 to well over $2 million this year. Devana Solutions also made the Triangle Tweener List this year.
Little by little, the industry is catching up to the vision that Devana Solutions had at its inception. And the startup is only looking to grow, looking to roughly double its dozen-person team by the end of this year.
“The industry is behind the curve, so we were very much saying: this is where the industry is going,” Lake said. “You need not just this workflow automation, but you need to capture your performance and process metrics.”
Lake said the additional benefits for clinical research sites in using Devana Solutions lie in how they use the metrics they provide.
“You can use those metrics to both improve your organization but also to tout your capabilities to the pharmaceutical companies that you want to win business from,” Lake said. “The industry is only now starting to realize with the drive for Covid vaccines and the volume that’s been thrust upon the industry, like, wow, we need to improve our tech stack.”
Through all the changes that came along with Covid-19, Devana Solutions’ technology has been at the forefront, Lake said.
“We’ve learned that we really need to tell the story for our value prop to the leadership,” Lake said. “‘Hey, your people are engaged, and we’re saving them a lot of time, but look at the reporting that you can get out of the system and the analytics that you can get out of the system to help you manage.’”
There remain so many areas in health and life sciences that need process improvement, Lake said. Ultimately, if transparency is made easier between drug development companies and the sites holding the clinical trials, therapies will be delivered to patients quicker. And that’s what Devana Solutions’ vision is all about.
“We’ve got to speed the time of delivery of new therapies to patients that need them,” Lake said. “Our mission is to use technology to improve the process and the speed of delivery of clinical trials to get these therapeutics to patients faster.”