How Philadelphia’s tech scene helped Oncora Medical raise $1.2 million

Oncora Medical

No early-stage capital in Philly? This digital health company will make you rethink that.

Oncora Medical just closed a seed round of $1.2 million from investors like Philadelphia’s BioAdvance, San Francisco’s iSeed Ventures and Wisconsin-based oncology entrepreneur Dr. Thomas “Rock” Mackie, but they say they couldn’t have done it without early financial support from the Philadelphia tech scene.

Founded by brainy high school best friends David Lindsay and Chris Berlind, Oncora Medical is building software that aims to help radiation oncologists learn from past treatment data.

In 2014 and 2015, the early days of Oncora, Lindsay, 26, an M.D./Ph.D. student at Penn, cobbled together roughly $100,000 in grants, loans and investment from various sources: First Round Capital’s Dorm Room Fund, the Wharton Innovation Fund, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, medical school entrepreneurship program PennHealthX and, most recently, the University City Science Center’s Digital Health Accelerator. Oncora received $50,000 from BFTP in the form of a zero-interest loan, as part of the state-backed venture firm’s effort to support ultra early stage companies.

Oncora also received investment from DreamIt Health, from which they graduated last fall. (Entrepreneurs, we hope you’re taking notes.) Many of those sources focus on health IT, pointing to the region’s growing infrastructure for the sector.

That money, most of which was grants and loans and thus, non-dilutive, was invaluable, Lindsay said, because it helped keep Berlind afloat while he took a leave of absence from his Georgia Tech computer science Ph.D. program to build Oncora’s product. (Berlind, 27, has since finished, but now it’s Lindsay who’s taking a leave of absence from his grad program.) The duo insisted on waiting until they had traction before seriously approaching investors, Lindsay said.

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