Thirty percent reduction in costs and twenty to thirty percent reduction in the study’s timeline – Does this sound utopian for Clinical Trials and studies in Health Care?
If so, then you have never heard of SyMetric, an Indian startup co-founded by Uma Janapareddy. With SyMetric’s Integrated IT solutions, users can easily conduct clinical studies on a more efficient, resources-saving and faster way.
Fortunately, SyMetric is now conquering the German market, too. With one of their first German customers, they have already landed a big deal. In an interview with 5-HT, Uma talks about how their software is bringing a shift in clinical trials, why IT solutions have a hard start in health care industries and also gives away some news.
In a few words: What is SyMetric?
“SyMetric is taking care of the end-to-end requirements of clinical trials. SyMetric Clinical Trial Platform is a product which is conceptualised, designed, developed, deployed and supported by our expert team. Built on a single Data base, the product meets the requirements for a system that is compliant, secure and also efficient.
In these difficult times of COVID 19, where focus is on finding an appropriate treatment and a permanent cure, need for a system that supports these short timelines with greater accuracy and faster implementation is crucial. Our product can provide these requirements with an integrated system built on a single database. It is faster, more affordable, more efficient and easier to use.”
Why do you see SyMetric as a game changer in health care and clinical trials?
“In an industry which is very conventional and emphasis on the data security as a primary requirement, adoption of software comes with enormous validations. SyMetric’s key focus was to develop the tool based on regulatory guidelines, built on the FDA’s 21 CFR part 11 guidelines, and the product meets the quality attributes for a successful clinical trial. The second principal is to provide a system that is cost effective, simple and user friendly. An easy to use system will support investigators, site personnel, CRA’s, CRO project Managers and the sponsors to manage a study in real time, leading to quick and efficient decision making and in achieving the necessary factors for a successful completion of a trial.
The integrated platform also reduces number of systems deployed for a clinical trial. Therefore, a customer will have to manage fewer service providers and lesser resources at their clinical trials.”
And who can benefit of these advantages SyMetric promises?
“Pharmaceutical companies are certainly the significant beneficiary, as their spend on a clinical trial is reduced substantially. CRO’s will be also benefited with the reduced number of resources to be deployed. Hospitals and R&D institutions will reap the benefits of using a more automated system.”
That is probably the reason why you wanted to be a part of our network from 5-HT, which is specialized on health care and chemical industries. What are you looking for in our network?
“Yes. Since Germany is being one of the biggest markets in Europe for Clinical R&D, we are definitely looking for clients, and also for potential partnerships. SyMetric wants to establish an office in Europe, preferably in Germany.”
When you say you want to establish offices in Europe, does that mean you want to set up your business international, too?
“We had the vision to have offices in all five continents. Our current market presence is both in India and the USA. So far, we completed about 16 studies, each of them was longer than a year. Most of our studies have been conducted in the US and India. Besides those, we also had trials in South America and Europe.
We have a good customer base in the US. Now we are planning to reach out to customers in Europe, which is one of the reasons we came across SAP. They referred us to 5-HT.”
Working with such a big company like SAP might enable great opportunities for startups. How were your experiences working with SAP?
“We have been selected as one of the companies which are part of the Second Cohort of the Startup Studio Accelerator Program in India. We got opportunity to be the Co-Innovation partner with SAP. We received tremendous support from SAP, both in India and Germany. SyMetric participated in the design workshops, mentoring sessions and business strategy sessions conducted by SAP and been guided well by their expert teams. Overall an excellent cooperation and good support.”
Many startups in health care share the impression that the pharmaceutical and medical industry in Germany is very conservative. The industry seems to rely on paper documents instead of digital solutions. Did you have the same impression about the Indian market?
“Yes, it is the same in India and even in the US. It definitely is a challenge to convince CXOs or the industry itself to move from paper-based study to a digital system-based study and to a software. There is a shift in this approach, we have many leaders who believe in having efficient systems to lead their studies. What they need is a reliable system which is affordable.”
Do you have advice for startups how to conquer the Indian or US-American market?
“I think the challenges and experiences of a startup founder are similar across the globe, whether you are in India, Germany or in the US. Every day is a new day and a new challenge, the winner is always the one who believes in the business idea and how they want to change how businesses are done. This needs abundant perseverance.
It is also crucial to have passion about what you do. When we work with absolute passion to find a solution, address a bigger market and think globally, you will find financing. So, the most important point of running a business is the passion and belief about the difference you want to bring to the Industry.
It is important to think out of the box. Sometimes, the solution is outside of what you can see. There are many managing schools, mentors and a lot of knowledge about businesses, but I believe the problems and challenges each business is facing are different and so the solutions are unique.
Can you tell us your story – how you founded SyMetric?
“I worked in a NGO for twelve years. Then, I wanted to do something bigger, something that is also for the community. I wanted to provide an interesting solution which can alter the way industries are looking at software, especially the pharmaceutical industry. I was also invested in a clinical research organization, where I extensively worked with doctors. I am also a member of the Anthroposophical Medical Society, an institution that advocates health from a spiritual perspective. It was only natural for me to bring all these fragments of software and health together and provide solutions for clinical research.
About eight years back, there were only few big players for software in clinical research globally. We knew that it is possible to provide software at much lesser costs and in a more efficient system which was not available at that point of the time, though.
SyMetric was kind of a ‘game changer’ in the pharmaceutical software sector, because we provided a solution that is affordable, efficient, smart and at the same time user-friendly.
SyMetric is eight years into business now. We have about twenty full-time employees and ten part-time or consulting employees. We are now a mature startup company and we can still grow bigger. We have the intention to expand our team with 20 more joining us in 2020”
With the experiences you made, can you give advice to other founders, especially in the sector of IT and health care?
“One of the biggest challenges is trying to convince a hospital to shift from the traditional systems to a more technology-advanced system. Or convincing a CRO to shift from the present systems to SyMetric. It is to encourage them out of their comfort. Many of them have the notion that ‘technology is hard to use’, so they do not even want to attempt to get into a system and see how it works.
SyMetric can provide a system with a low number of clicks. This means it is easy to navigate, with an in-built help content. Online training helps the users to learn and adopt to a new system quickly. A dashboard with the real time Data view and a prompt report of the status of the study will help with effective monitoring. I wonder, why is quality so expensive? A quality system should be within reach for any business so that the industry is benefited.
Think about going to the supermarket and easily finding a very good valued product. You take it with you without thinking twice, because it is so affordable and sounds promising. After using the product, you realize it is so simple and easy to use, that you would not think twice about buying it again.”
Can you give away some of your visions or plans for the future?
“As I said, one of our biggest vision is to have SyMetric`s presence all over the globe. But that is only one part of the whole plan. We also want to expand and enhance the tool. Our tool should be known in the same way as SAP’s, for example. The SyMetric brand should be known for its culture, its trust and the kind of products it offers.
We also want to work with large companies in these sectors. The vision of SyMetric is to provide a good software product that will make a difference to the Patients participating in a clinical Trial and the outcomes of the Trial.”