Qvella has announced a new $20 million USD Series B round of funding.
The company—based in Richmond Hill just outside of Toronto—is a leading molecular diagnostics company and the pioneer behind Fast Activated Sample Treatment (FAST). The new round of funding was co-led by Qvella’s existing investor syndicate, which includes RA Capital, Whitecap Venture partners, Hatteras Ventures and Sands Capital, as well as new investor bioMérieux.
The new funding will help Qvella support ongoing research and expand their team, among other things.
“We’ll fund the clinical trial which is slated towards summer 2018 and better position the company for growth,” says Tino Alavie, co-founder and CEO of Qvella. “From a manufacturing perspective, we need larger fully-automated equipment for our cartridges. In terms of R&D, we also have other products in the pipeline, so we want to be able to bring those to market as well.”
Qvella aims to reduce the time to results when it comes to diagnosing infection. The company’s pathogen detection technology allows for the direct sampling of bodily fluids like blood without the need for time-consuming culturing and processing.
The unique advantage Qvella brings revolves around their instrument’s small footprint and simple usability. They recognize that user interface has to be intuitive while also having a broad panel of detectable pathogens. The most important thing may be time to results, a component Qvella puts a lot focus into.
“We see ourselves in a very unique position because our instrument is small and hands-off,” says Alavie. “You get the results in just under an hour. We cast a wide net to capture a lot of pathogens in a very clever way that enables us to manage a multiplexed cartridge effectively.”
Since picking up a $26 million Series A in 2015, Qvella has grown their impact on the medical world. Two years ago, they had an alpha prototype that was not nearly as advanced as the product they have right now. Their first testing apparatus was comprised of two boxes—one was a sample prep side and the other box was a commercially available thermal cycler that did polymerase chain reaction and detection. Now Qvella has a fully integrated cartridge that streamlines everything by taking a sample in and spitting a result out.
Having bioMérieux as an investor will also help Qvella reach new heights, as Frédéric Sweeney, a VP of corporate business development from the company will join Qvella’s board of directors.
“BioMérieux has a great understand of market requirements to the extent that we can leverage it and enter complementary markets,” says Alavie. “Them being intimately aware of customer pain points and medical requirements while also being a powerhouse in the space is helpful but also telling—they’re saying we like what we see with Qvella.”
Alavie also explained how Qvella’s products are very different from other company’s offerings that only perform extraction and purification. The company is open to using their core competence to partner with other businesses and leverage Qvella’s intellectual property, bringing about better solutions for all kinds of customers.