Alphabet and other investors poured $700 million in funding into Verily last week. The company, which is Alphabet’s life sciences subsidiary, plans to pour some of the funds into supporting Covid-19 vaccine studies and programs for businesses.
After raising $1 billion last year, Verily is closing out the year with another $700 million in funding. Google’s life sciences spinout has seen the scope of its work expand significantly since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This year, Verily began facilitating Covid-19 tests and offering onsite testing for companies and universities. It plans to use the new funds to further expand the use of its clinical research and population health tools, and progress its life science programs in surgery, pathology and immunity.
As of December, Verily operated a total of 351 sites across 15 states, many of which were opened through a partnership with Rite Aid. It had originally planned to use its research platform, Baseline, to create screening questionnaires for Covid-19 testing, but quickly realized it would also need to support the actual testing process. When traditional laboratory companies faced backlogs, Verily ended up creating its own small lab testing capacity.
Going into 2021, much of its work will still be related to the pandemic. Verily is helping recruit participants for trials of Covid-19 vaccines and treatments using a registry that it launched at the same time as its community testing program.
Pfizer and the Duke Clinical Research Institute also will use Verily’s research platform to administer a long-term surveillance study of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine in healthcare workers. They plan to enroll 20,000 healthcare workers who have received the vaccine and follow them for two years, with participants given the option to share information about their health and any unexpected medical care they received.
Verily also said it planned to use the funds to expand its Health Platforms business, which includes its digital health programs, such as Onduo, as well as the new stop-loss insurance business it launched in conjunction with Swiss Re this year.
It also includes the programs Verily has rolled out for businesses during the pandemic to help them manage onsite testing. Verily began working with Brown University in July, and now has 19 customers, a company spokesperson wrote in an email.
While many of its users are large organizations, it also works with smaller life science firms, who need to have people onsite to maintain operations.
“We’re humbled and excited about the opportunity to expand the scope and rapidly scale our products and services,” Verily CEO and Founder Andrew Conrad said in a news release. “2021 will be a year of significant and focused growth for Verily’s operations as we continue to drive innovation in our core programs, launching more studies and study tools on Baseline to support decentralized research, and expanding our Health Platforms product offerings and services for employers, providers and patients.”
Investors in Verily’s $700 million round included parent company Alphabet, Temasek, the Ontario Techers’ Pension Plan and Silver Lake, which led the company’s previous round.
“Verily has an impressive roster of platforms and a demonstrated ability to apply core capabilities in laboratory and data science, engineering, and clinical expertise to tackle the challenges of a healthcare system in need of an overhaul for the benefit of all the stakeholders it serves,” Silver Lake Co-CEO Egon Durban said in a news release.