TMRW is the world’s first and only automated, software-guided specimen management platform for IVF.
Hundreds of millions of children owe their lives to IVF in the coming decades. Almost 10% of all children in countries such as Denmark are already the product of IVF. This high rate of utility should come as no surprise given that 10-15% of heterosexual couples are impacted by infertility, with few options other than IVF to conceive.
And going forward, due to recent medical advances, almost all of these IVF children will be the result of eggs and embryos which were once “vitrified”—-flash frozen at cryogenic temperatures of -196C.
TMRW technology replaces the outdated, manual, analog and error prone storage system that exists in every IVF center in the world (and which was largely borrowed from animal husbandry and unchanged for over four decades) with safe, “always vigilant” automation, 24/7 monitoring and robotic storage.
The key tech features of TMRW’s cryo-specimen management platform include:
- Proprietary labware with industry-leading thermal properties and fully automated robotic storage (‘CryoRobot’) to maintain safe cryogenic temperatures for specimens at all times
- Unique digital identification for each patient using advanced RFID labware, enabling clinics to identify and track specimens, creating an continuous track and trace audit trail
- 24/7, remote monitoring (‘Overwatch’) performs hundreds of system performance checks every day, enabling the system to proactively monitor clinic and specimen safety, giving assurance as to the safety of specimens under clinic care.
- Fully encrypted software, providing the highest level of privacy and security to both patient and clinic data
How did you come up with the idea for the company?
In 2017 my TMRW co-founder, Alan Murray and I met with a former colleague who had just undergone IVF. At the time, we knew little about the world of fertility medicine or IVF. However, we were intrigued by her story and began researching the fertility space initially just out of curiosity, with little thought of creating a company.
But what we discovered really shocked us. Despite the staggering market growth in IVF, cryo management – the process in which eggs and embryos are frozen and preserved for use in fertility treatments – had barely evolved in decades.
Having spent more than 20 years building, funding, and selling venture backed companies in the data science and machine learning industries — fields in which everything is trackable and information accessible in real time — we couldn’t believe that life’s most precious cells were not being similarly tracked and managed.
We soon partnered with a friend and fellow New York serial entrepreneur, Jeff Port. Jeff is a surgeon and member of the medical faculty at Weill Cornell in New York. But in addition to his surgery and teaching, Jeff is also a gifted commercial innovator. His first company, RFID Surgical, pioneered the use of RFID in surgical applications. Shortly before we started TMRW he sold this firm to Medtronics (NYSE: MDT) the $140B leader in health tech.
Luckily, with this sale, the original tech team that Jeff had assembled for RFID innovation was available and played a critical role in developing TMRW’s technology to flawlessly track eggs and embryos in demanding cryogenic environments, something that “the experts” persisted in telling us “was not possible”—-until we did it.
Together, Jeff, Alan and I committed ourselves to creating a company that would lead the technology and automation revolution in IVF. This wave of innovation will have massive benefits for patients: TMRW and our partner IVF clinics are now able to offer exponentially higher levels of safety and security with regard to care and management of the frozen eggs and embryos that are at the center of most IVF procedures. But this is only the beginning.
These same centers will, with the rollout of further TMRW technology, be able to offer markedly improved access to IVF services for hopeful parents through the automation driven reduction of both the expense and time required for IVF .
From a personal perspective, nothing in my life has been more meaningful or rewarding than being a father. Therefore, it’s a special privilege to help millions of people, who could not become parents without IVF, to experience the joy of having children.
Our work at TMRW ensures that the irreplaceable vitrified eggs and embryos, which are at the heart of nearly every IVF birth, are always safe, secure, and perfectly cared for — and never a cause for anxiety for either clinicians or those looking to start or grow their families. And going forward, TMRW will lead a broader tech revolution in IVF which will dramatically democratize access to fertility care. This prospect of creating and deploying technology to make it possible for more people to access and afford high quality IVF is hugely motivating to both the TMRW Founders and our team.
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How has the company evolved during the pandemic?
COVID-19 drew attention to the health and life sciences sectors like never before, highlighting the need for rapid advancement and digital transformation across all sectors, but particularly in fertility. And IVF actually grew at record pace during the pandemic, to a certain extent, the result of people having more flexible time to undertake the IVF journey courtesy of a mandated work-from-home two year period for many people.
Now, investments into fertility startups are at an all-time high. In fact, Crunchbase found that investments in the fertility space in 2021 were up 89% from the previous year, and this trend looks set to continue this year as well.
As a result of the clear demand and opportunity in the fertility-space, TMRW raised $105 million in a debt and equity round. The Series C equity round was led by Transformation Capital and included participation from GV (formerly Google Ventures), Casdin Capital, Peter Thiel, Anne and Susan Wojcicki, and existing investors 5AM Ventures and Life Sciences Innovation Fund.
Our latest financing helped to accelerate our global expansion—-(including the opening of a London office) and advance our product innovation efforts. This capital is also being used to develop consumer awareness of the platform which we have always envisioned as a B2B2C brand.
What can we hope to see from TMRW in the future?
TMRW has seen huge success since we founded the company four years ago, with our technology already contracted with IVF centers operating 30 clinics in the U.S.
For 2022 and beyond global expansion is a huge priority particularly as America represents under 10% of worldwide IVF activity while the U.K. and Europe account for ~25% and Asia another ~50% of IVF activity. TMRW was conceived from day one as a global operator and we are now executing on that vision.
Going forward, we’re looking for us to expand into automating an increasing number of functions in the critical IVF lab where sperm and egg are brought together to create precious embryos. Beyond our continued technical innovation and leadership, TMRW is committed to rapidly deploying our platform to the hundreds of clinics worldwide who would like to begin automating the IVF process for the benefit of patients.