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This $300M fund wants to help precision medicine startups blast off

Lancaster, Pa.-based VC Aspire Universal and Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health are taking a customized approach to supporting what Brookings identified as a regional strength.

Jenn Apicella (far left) leads the announcements during a recent Build412 Tech event.

Thought still nascent, the precision medicine industry is projected to hit the $141 billion mark by 2026. A new $300 million venture capital fund is looking to help companies in the personalized devices and medical practices space innovative, all the while cashing in on that projected growth.

The Aspire Ventures Precision Medicine Fund lists two institutions as general partners: Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health (LG Health) and Lancaster, Pa.-based venture firm Aspire Universal. In keeping with the industry’s theme, the two institutions are taking a customized approach to help grow the companies they back.

On Tuesday, the companies said in a statement their model looks to “shave years and millions of dollars off the traditional investment process” by making proprietary artificial intelligence, health data and clinical expertise available to companies in bid to streamline research and development, clinical trials and other efforts.

“The overwhelming majority of healthcare investments fail because they are designed in isolation from the health systems that use them,” said Essam Abadir, AVP Fund Manager and Managing Partner of Aspire Universal. “As a result, they are extremely capital intensive and take a very long time to go through R&D, the FDA, and gain market traction. By establishing the new AVP fund, we are pursuing the promise of precision medicine as one of the main drivers for healthcare transformation.”

In Philly, at least two companies are working around precision medicine technology. Oncora Medical, makers of a platform that helps radiation oncologists learn from past treatment data; and San Francisco-based Syapse, which recently expanded its presence in Radnor, Pa.

Announcement of the fund seems to take a cue from this 2017 report from the Brookings Institute, which pointed to precision medicine as a key field for Philly’s innovation cluster and even recommended a pooled, “central organizing force” that can help capture the full value of the region’s research and commercialization efforts.

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