King of Prussia-based Greenphire builds alliances to reach large global clinical trial payments market, as Sunshine Act takes effect
Ranked #191 on Inc. 500

Tom Paine

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King of Prussia-based Greenphire is rapidly building key strategic alliances to expand its reach and capabilities in the global clinical trials payment market. Founded in 2008, Greenphire has built what appears to be a talented and balanced team of payment technology and clinical research professionals to create what it believes is a superior, cloud-based solution to expedite payments, and perhaps more importantly, to fulfill the increasingly detailed and complex regulatory reporting requirements on clinical trial-related expenditures.

The clinical trials market is huge; estimates vary, but expenditures are certainly in the tens of billions and perhaps more than $100 billion. Over the past few decades the regulatory process for gaining approval for a drug or device has become more rigorous, and the need to recruit and also provide appropriate compensation for trial participants has intensified. This is the case not only in the US, but globally.

The need for a better technology solution to track clinical spending was heightened by the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which became effective August 1. The Sunshine Act requires extensive, detailed reporting on almost all payments or gifts given to physicians, patients and trial participants. While this is US legislation, it is expected to rapidly become the model for a standard in much of the world, Greenphire co-founder and CEO Sam Whitaker told me in a phone interview.

Sam Whitaker
Whitaker, who majored in Philosophy at Penn, got a taste of the healthcare profession by working at different jobs within the Penn Medicine system while a student there. After an investment banking stint, he got his experience in payment technology by joining Conshohocken-based startup eCount after it was acquired by Citi (and later rebranded as Citi Prepaid). There he met and worked with Greenphire co-founder and CFO John Samar. After leaving Citi, Whitaker, along with his wife, co-founder and Chief Experience Officer Jennifer Peters and Samar looked for venture opportunities that they could apply their skills to. They found the idea of combining their payment technology skills with information technology needs in the clinical trial space compelling. Prior to Greenphire, Peters worked closely with pharmaceutical industry clients as an executive for a communications firm.
John Samar
As CFO, Samar (a Lehigh graduate) plays a broader role in the company's product offering than that title sometimes implies. His responsibilities include designing the back-end functionality to support Greenphire's commercial technologies, and managing its relationships with its major financial partners.

Dr. Neil Rotherham, who serves as Executive Director of Greenphire's board, founded ClinPhone, the pioneer in Interactive Voice Response Systems (IVRS) for use in clinical trials, later acquired by Parexel for $182 million in 2008.

Greenphire currently has two product offerings: ClinCard, the payment platform, and eClinicalGPS, which facilitates accurate payment calculation, manages complex payment approval processes, and automates payment execution in local currencies.

Greenphire was just named to the 2013 Inc. 500, ranked #191 nationally and 4th in the Philadelphia metro area, with 2012 revenue of $5.4 million and a growth rate over three years in excess of 2000%. Whitaker said Greenphire had tripled its revenue in each year since 2009. It has over 300 customers and some 50 employees. Greenphire is establishing a beachhead in Europe, with one employee in the UK and another coming onboard shortly there.

Greenphire recieved early funding from angels and Ben Franklin Technology Partners. In September 2011, Greenphire closed a Series A financing of $1.5 million in growth capital led by FirstMark Capital. FirstMark also participated in a $4.3 million Series B round for Greenphire in October of last year, according to data from the PWC Moneytree report. FirstMark is the New York VC firm that backed Boomi and again backed Bob Moul at Artisan Mobile. Its portfolio also includes Aereo, Pinterest and Shopify.

Perhaps Greenphire's closest competitor in terms of technology is Raleigh-based Clinverse.
New York-based Payoneer is also a competitor in some ways, though it is not entirely focused on clinical trials.
Audubon-based CFS Clinical, which also was on Inc. 5000 (#2110), provides a combination of consulting, services and
technology to the clinical payments industry.

The clinical trials technology sector is composed of many firms (including several in the Philadelphia area) who specialize in specific parts of the process and others who integrate various pieces to different extents. Examples of integrators are Parexel, Greenphire partner Oracle Health Sciences, Medidata Solutions (which has a presence in Conshohocken), and Accenture. Last year, Accenture acquired Wayne-based Octagon Research Solutions, and last month it announced the formation of Accenture Accelerated R&D Services, which includes Octagon, and "will leverage capabilities of the cloud, mobility and analytics to deliver integrated functions across clinical development, regulatory submissions, pharmacovigilance and market launch," the company said in its release.

An open question is what role these integrators will ultimately play in the clinical payments tracking & reporting market; will they partner, buy, or build their own solutions?

Another approach is that of Veeva Systems, the Silicon Valley-based life sciences software company with a significant presence in the Philly area.

Veeva, which has indicated it is planning to file for an IPO, is launching a new product, Veeva Network, later this year. Built in part around its acquisition of Fort Washington-based AdvantageMS announced in July in combination with Veeva's proprietary software, Veeva Network will provide an extensive database of providers and use Master Data Management (MDM) to enhance data quality and match detailed expenditure reports to the correct master records, Dan Goldsmith, general manager of Veeva Network, told Philly Tech News. Veeva will use data supplied from its own CRM clients and other partners to supply aggregate spend data to help meet Sunshine Act requirements.


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Tom Paine

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