BlueDot, formerly BioDiaspora Inc., secures Series A with Horizons Ventures

Toronto-based commercial arm of BioDiaspora research program tracks global spread of infectious diseases in real-time; fourth MI company to reach Series A

BlueDot logoTORONTO (Dec. 2, 2014) — BlueDot, a Toronto-based social benefit corporation founded by Dr. Kamran Khan, an infectious disease physician and scientist, tracks and predicts the global spread of infectious diseases.

Spun off from St. Michael’s Hospital in partnership with MaRS Innovation (and formerly known as BioDiaspora Inc.), BlueDot, has secured a Series A venture capital funding from Horizons Ventures. Funded by Sir Li Ka-shing, Horizons invests in what they call “game-changing disruptive tech,” and has a proven track record in making early-stage investments (i.e., Facebook, Skype, Waze, Siri and Spotify).

TechVibes and MedCity News covered BlueDot’s Series A announcement, as did PE Hub and BetaKit. Read the BlueDot press release here.

The company is the fourth in MaRS Innovation’s portfolio to reach Series A. MaRS Innovation provided $400,000 in seed funding and worked with BlueDot and St. Michael’s to incorporate the company and develop its initial business strategy, intellectual property protection strategy and go-to-market plan. The Ontario Centres of Excellence also provided $140,000 in commercialization grants that helped BlueDot get off the ground.

BlueDot is the commercial arm of Dr. Khan’s academic research program called BioDiaspora, which was developed at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s. BioDiaspora models how infectious diseases can spread and impact populations globally by analyzing big data such as the annual movements of more than 3 billion travelers on commercial flights; human, animal and insect population data; climate data from satellites; and news reports of disease outbreaks. The program was inspired by the Toronto’s SARS crisis in 2003 and its capabilities scientifically validated in prestigious academic journals such as the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine.

Visualization of the final destinations of travellers departing countries in West Africa with widespread and intense Ebola virus transmission

Visualization of the final destinations of travelers departing countries in West Africa with widespread and intense Ebola virus transmission. Source: http://bluedot.global/work

During its development, BlueDot’s platform technology was used by numerous international agencies, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the Public Health Agency of Canada to evaluate emerging infectious disease threats, including those during global mass gatherings such as the Olympics and the hajj.

BlueDot has entered into a five-year cooperative agreement to work with CDC headquarters in Atlanta. It has also received funding from Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada to support WHO’s Ebola response in West Africa and to build capacity among the 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to prepare for tomorrow’s inevitable infectious disease threats.

“We are excited about our partnership with Horizons because of their track record in helping companies amplify the impact of innovative technology,” said Albert Tseng, chief operating officer of BlueDot. “Another fundamental backbone of the partnership is that Horizons shares our vision of using business to address important social challenges in the world; in our case using technology to predict and mitigate against the spread of dangerous infectious diseases.”

“BlueDot is well-positioned to build on its existing relationships within the global healthcare community and expand its disease-tracking and prediction products into the business sector,” said Dr. Raphael Hofstein, president and CEO of MaRS Innovation. “Digital health technologies have shown remarkable market traction in 2014 and we’re excited by the prospects of this and other companies in our portfolio. I’d like to recognize Fanny Sie and Joel Liederman for their leadership of this project.”