Racial and ethnic minorities make up 40 percent of the U.S. population. But when it comes to medical research, minorities account for as little as two percent of participants in studies of new tests and treatments. Acclinate Genetics — the newest addition to the Bronze Valley investment portfolio — is working to increase minority participation in clinical trials, enabling pharmaceutical companies to create drugs that can better protect minorities.
“This is a problem that needs to be addressed,” says Acclinate co-founder and CEO Del Smith. “It only exacerbates the health inequalities we’re already dealing with in America and around the world. We believe that diversifying genomic research and clinical trials to include more representation and diversity increases knowledge about health issues and makes a difference in personalized healthcare for all.”
Based in Huntsville, Acclinate is the 10th investment for Bronze Valley. Since launching the company in 2018, Smith says, he and co-founder Tiffany Jordan-Whitlow have become “100 percent focused” on helping diverse individuals make informed decisions about genomic research and clinical trial participation.
Acclinate helps biopharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations increase minority and ethnic participation in research and trials. With a platform that protects privacy, the company utilizes machine learning and predictive analytics to ensure selection of more diverse participants. Acclinate creates value by decreasing the overall cost of drug development, increasing the speed of drug approval, integrating with virtual clinical trials and contributing to the discovery of new drugs.
“Our mission is providing sustainable solutions,” Jordan-Whitlow says. “We started a movement at #NOWINCLUDED to educate, engage, inspire and activate a diverse community to take control of their healthcare needs and, therefore, their future.”
Addressing longstanding inequities in research and clinical trials also presents business opportunities. Currently, the clinical trial patient recruitment market is a $3.4 billion business, a figure projected to grow to $5.3 billion by 2030.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the ways everyone does business. Meanwhile, Jordan-Whitlow notes that the accompanying social unrest has highlighted racial injustices and persistent inequalities, and says that’s another motivation — and another opportunity — for Acclinate.
“It makes our mission even more important,” says Jordan-Whitlow. “Already, the way we’re thinking about the post-COVID world is allowing us to create partnerships and secure additional resources.”
That’s part of the rationale for Bronze Valley’s investment in Acclinate. Bronze Valley President and CEO Neill S. Wright says the company’s mission aligns with his organization’s interest in supporting solutions that address healthcare disparities.
“This investment demonstrates Bronze Valley’s commitment to the full scope of our own mission,” says Wright. “Existing healthcare disparities in communities of color have been highlighted even more by COVID. Eliminating such chronic inequality is essential to creating a pipeline of economic opportunity and social progress.
“That’s why we’re investing in Acclinate,” Wright added. “Beyond helping them scale the business, we want to encourage their vision for addressing critical economic and social needs.”
Acclinate’s Smith says that he and Jordan-Whitlow have followed the philosophy of applying sound business principles to making positive social impacts. Bronze Valley understands and supports that.
“In seeking investors,” says Smith, “we have been intent on finding individuals and institutions that share our philosophy. We found that in Bronze Valley.