Virtual clinical research company Thread acquired by two private equity firms

The companies say they plan on expanding Thread's customers and growing globally.
By Laura Lovett
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Yesterday private equity firms Water Street Health Partners and JLL Partners announced that they had acquired virtual clinical research company Thread for an undisclosed amount. The new owners say they plan on investing in Thread in order to further expand its customer base and offer the platform on a global scale. 

Thread’s platform is aimed at improving clinical trial research data and making registration easier. Throughout he platform, researchers can collect data remotely, including at a participant’s home as opposed to making the patient come into the investigator’s site. The platform lets researchers send out consent forms and engagement tools to users. It also supports telehealth visits, data capture and medical device connections. 

“Thread’s platform is highly valued for its user-centric design, flexibility, ease of use, and broad functionality,” Mark A. Goldberg, the company’s newly appointed executive chairman, said in a statement. “Working together with our customers, we have the exciting opportunity to advance the next generation of clinical trials to accelerate product development and innovation.”

WHY IT MATTERS

Increasingly the pharma world has been turning to digital technologies that have been pitched as a way to facilitate data collection and boost patient engagement. 

Several research organizations are looking into ways to marry the world of digital health to biopharmaceuticals. 

“With the convergences of life sciences and digital health, we are already seeing outstanding opportunities to transform patient care and drug discoveries,” Kendalle Burlin O’Connell, COO at MassBio, told MobiHealthNews in July“We knew that integrating digital into the life sciences was happening, and we knew that there were other industries that were doing it [and] doing it better. So if we wanted to stay on top, we needed to take a strategic look at what needs to be done.”

THE LARGER TREND

M&As are becoming commonplace in the digital health world. In fact, last year MobiHealthNews reported on 56 mergers and acquisitions and, according to Rock Health M&A is the most popular exit for digital health companies. 

Like this acquisition, there have been a few other companies acquired by private equity firms. Often a private equity acquisition is more like a large-scale investment into the company — as opposed to a strategic acquisition, which generally involves a combination or integration of technologies, products or services. 

During the first part of 2019 a private equity firm acquired Qualcomm Life. Johnson & Johnson also sold its LifeScan business, which sells the OneTouch line of connected and nonconnected glucometers, to Platinum Equity.

ON THE RECORD 

“JLL and Water Street are the ideal partners for Thread to accelerate our strategic expansion and solutions to our customers. Their life science expertise and resources will enable us to grow in a thoughtful way that will benefit all of our customers,” Jeff Frazier, founder and CEO of Thread, said in a statement.