Stamford Advocate 7/29/20: Health care information firm Sema4, which has developed a major coronavirus testing program, announced Wednesday that it had raised $121 million in new funding and achieved an overall valuation of more than $1 billion.
BlackRock-managed funds led the Series C financing in the Stamford-based company, with other new investors including Deerfield Management Co., and Moore Strategic Ventures. Each of the investors from Sema4’s first round of external funding that raised about $120 million last year also participated in the second stage, a group that includes the state-chartered investment agency Connecticut Innovations, Greenwich-based Oak HC/FT, Blackstone, Section 32 and Decheng.
“This investment is exciting for the significant financial resources it provides Sema4 for our continued rapid growth and accelerated investment and also for the world-renowned partners it brings to our team,” Sema4 founder and CEO Eric Schadt said in a statement. “I look forward to working with our new and existing investors — who collectively have deep expertise in the life and data sciences — as we create cutting-edge precision medicine solutions for providers and patients to dramatically improve health outcomes.”
As part of the investment, Dr. Andrew Elbardissi, a partner at Deerfield, has joined Sema4’s board of directors.
“Among their peer-group companies, Sema4 rises above the rest with its incredible team of innovators, relentless pursuit of better technology and bone-deep commitment to reimagining what’s possible in healthcare,” Elbardissi said in a statement. “I am delighted to help them move forward on this path.”
Since April, Sema4 has built out a coronavirus testing program at its laboratory in Branford with the capacity to process about 15,000 tests daily.
The firm has also announced plans to expand into antibody testing to identify people who have been exposed and whose immune systems have responded to the coronavirus, with the goal of initially running each day about 5,000 of those exams.
In another new initiative, which reflects the firm’s original focus on reproductive health, the company has launched Sema4 Signal, a group of products and services providing “data-driven precision oncology solutions.”
Across all its operations, Sema4 has amassed nearly 10 million patient records, with support from 10 major health systems, according to company officials.
Later this year, Sema4 is planning to open a 70,000-square-foot lab in Stamford’s Waterside section. It would complement the Branford facility.
The new Stamford site would house operations, including the antibody research, that are now based in Manhattan, within the Mount Sinai Health System. Sema4 was spun off from Mount Sinai in 2017.
“We’re super excited,” Schadt said in a recent interview. “It’s being custom built out for Sema4’s needs. It’s going to lead to a level of expansion and scalability, with respect to through-put and the diversity of tests we can take on.”
Sema4 announced the project in April 2018, with a pledge to add more than 400 jobs in the state in the next five years.
To support the expansion, the state Department of Economic and Community Development gave Sema4 a $6 million loan. In December 2015, DECD had awarded the company a $9.5 million loan to create 145 jobs.
Sema4 has about 215 employees who are based at its main offices at 333 Ludlow St., in the South End of Stamford, and about 75 at the Branford lab, according to recently provided headcounts.
The company’s name refers to semaphore — a system used to send signals. In previous statements, the company has said it aims to “discern signal from noise across trillions of data points” to gain insights into human health.