How Philadelphia's tech scene helped Oncora Medical raise $1.2 million - Philly


Mar. 10, 2016 9:01 am

How Philadelphia’s tech scene helped Oncora Medical raise $1.2 million

No early-stage capital in Philly? This digital health company will make you rethink that.

Oncora Medical cofounders David Lindsay (left) and Chris Berlind.

(Courtesy photo)

Oncora Medical just closed a seed round of $1.2 million from investors like Philadelphia’s BioAdvance, San Francisco’s iSeed Ventures and Wisconsin-based oncology entrepreneur Dr. Thomas “Rock” Mackie, but they say they couldn’t have done it without early financial support from the Philadelphia tech scene.

Founded by brainy high school best friends David Lindsay and Chris Berlind, Oncora Medical is building software that aims to help radiation oncologists learn from past treatment data.

Oncora's CityCoHo office.

Oncora’s CityCoHo office. (Photo by David Lindsay)

In 2014 and 2015, the early days of Oncora, Lindsay, 26, an M.D./Ph.D. student at Penn, cobbled together roughly $100,000 in grants, loans and investment from various sources: First Round Capital’s Dorm Room Fund, the Wharton Innovation Fund, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, medical school entrepreneurship program PennHealthX and, most recently, the University City Science Center’s Digital Health Accelerator. Oncora received $50,000 from BFTP in the form of a zero-interest loan, as part of the state-backed venture firm’s effort to support ultra early stage companies.

Oncora also received investment from DreamIt Health, from which they graduated last fall. (Entrepreneurs, we hope you’re taking notes.) Many of those sources focus on health IT, pointing to the region’s growing infrastructure for the sector.

That money, most of which was grants and loans and thus, non-dilutive, was invaluable, Lindsay said, because it helped keep Berlind afloat while he took a leave of absence from his Georgia Tech computer science Ph.D. program to build Oncora’s product. (Berlind, 27, has since finished, but now it’s Lindsay who’s taking a leave of absence from his grad program.) The duo insisted on waiting until they had traction before seriously approaching investors, Lindsay said.


Lindsay had no problems approaching investors on a whim. There was Mackie, a pioneer in the radiation oncology world, whom Lindsay saw speak at the annual meeting of the American Association for Physicists in Medicine in Anaheim last summer and cold-approached after his talk. He did the same with Barbara Schilberg of BioAdvance, who gave a talk at Penn that Lindsay attended. As for iSeed, Lindsay had lunch with partner Adam Lin on DreamIt Health’s investment roadshow and a few phone calls later, Lin was in.

They also count Safeguard Scientifics’ managing director for healthcare, Gary Kurtzman, as an advisor, whom Lindsay met when he took Kurtzman’s healthcare entrepreneurship class at Penn. Oncora isn’t in Safeguard’s investment sweet spot: it’s too early, but Kurtzman is already taking a role in the company, joining its board as chairman. Safeguard spokeswoman Heather Hunter is helping Oncora distribute the press release for their seed round, too. We’ve seen this before, where a later-stage investor takes an interest in an early-stage company, like with Bullpen Capital’s Paul Martino advising Squareknot. Sounds like they’re playing the long game (or just giving back).

Oncora has a team of four working out of a private office at CityCoHo (2401 Walnut St.) and plans to hire three to five engineers this year, Berlind said.

You must appreciate accurate, relevant and productive community journalism.  Support this sort of work from professional reporters with seasoned editors.  Become a member for $12 per month -30-
Already a member? Sign in here


How Macquarie blends tech-fueled financial services with global opportunity

How do you create a job that doesn’t exist?

Philly’s NorthStar Conference won’t be back in 2019. Here’s what to expect instead



How Macquarie blends tech-fueled financial services with global opportunity

Chesterbrook, PA


Senior Software Developer

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA - Center City


Sr. Business Analyst

Apply Now

When do Philadelphia tech companies get their first ‘local’ customer?

5 trends in growing startup cities from the last decade that you should understand

This precision medicine company just raised $5M to help save preemies



This apprenticeship program is opening the door for candidates with nontraditional backgrounds

Philadelphia, PA Match

Web Manager

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA


Senior Software Engineer

Apply Now
Philadelphia, Pa


Event Sales Ambassador

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Philadelphia

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!