Health tech / Startups / Awards

Blackfynn hits the trifecta: $2.3M in funding, a product launch and new partnerships

The realLIST startup, currently at 20 full-timers, secured a key multi-year award from the National Institutes of Health.

A rare photo of the Blackfynn team in its natural habitat. (Courtesy photo)
Correction: Doug Weber is joining Blackfynn's scientific advisory board but not, as was previously reported, as part of a partnership with Baylor University. (11/6/17, 9:50 a.m.)
Amid Philly’s often noisy tech ecosystem, realLIST No. 1 startup Blackfynn is a rather quiet presence.

Founded in early 2015, it remained in the shadows until late last year, when it announced a $1.4 million deal with the prestigious Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and a slate of partnerships with organizations like the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the Mayo Clinic and the University of Pennsylvania.

In a lengthy press release published Thursday, the company — which has a deep tech bench of experienced Philly devs — rolled out a slew of relevant updates. Let’s break them down so we can keep score:

A $2.3 million NIH award

Blackfynn, no stranger to working with government institutions, secured a multi-year award from the National Institutes of Health. It’s not a grant, the more common avenue for federal science funding, but a “Other Transactions (OT) award” as part of a project called Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC).

According to the institute’s website, the startup will receive $2.3 million in funding for a project called Blackfynn: a Scalable and Sustainable Platform for Scientific Data Integration and Analysis. In exchange for the award, the company will develop a key framework element for researchers and institutions working on SPARC: a cloud-based data management platform tailored to the specifications of SPARC researchers.

Though the company did not initially disclose the figure, founder and president Amanda Christini confirmed to the award was the first allocation of a five-year stream of funding. The deal could weigh heavily on Blackfynn’s longterm sustainability. However, though structured to be a multi-year agreement, the funding is still contingent on hitting milestones and the needs of the SPARC program.

“With these partnerships, funding, product launch and additions to our team, we are positioned to become the standard data platform for neuroscience, grow our team rapidly and focus on therapeutic applications of our platform,” cofounder Amanda Christini said in an email.

A new round of partnerships

Here’s the new slate of partnerships:

  • CHOP: This one’s more of a re-up, really. Both companies had expanded and extended their partnership earlier this year to work together on pediatric cancer research. Now, they’ve synced up again to give CHOP’s Center for Data Driven Discovery in Biomedicine (D3b) access to its platform.
  • Moberg ICU Solutions: The Ambler, Pa., medical device company will partner with the Center City startup to work on and commercialize applications of the Blackfynn data platform in Moberg devices. The joint offering will be initially available for clinical research purposes.
  • Baylor College of Medicine: The Blackfynn platform will be used in a clinical trial led by the Houston-based institution.

A product for academics

The Philly company will take the spotlight at meeting of the Society for Neurosciences (SfN) in Washington, D.C., Nov. 11–15, by announcing a version of its platform for academic researchers.

“Blackfynn is rapidly becoming the standard data platform for the neurosciences, and is committed to supporting and accelerating basic and translational research in academia,” the company said in the press release. “Consistent with this mission, Blackfynn will be launching a tailored version of the platform to the meet the needs of, and priced for, academic researchers.

“We’re a heads-down bunch,” said SVP of Engineering Chris Baglieri when we asked him for a picture of the team and he didn’t have one on hand. The phrase, however, is a good descriptor of Blackfynn’s communications strategy: when the startup does raise its head, it’s usually note-worthy.

Back to work, Blackfynn.

Companies: Blackfynn / Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

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