Big data business that analyzes how infectious diseases spread secures Series A financing

BlueDot, a spinout from St. Michael’s Hospital at the University of Toronto that uses big data to track and analyze risks posed by global infectious diseases, has closed a Series A round. Horizons Ventures was the main investor — it’s the private investment arm of Asian businessman Li Ka-shing, according to a company statement. The […]

BlueDot, a spinout from St. Michael’s Hospital at the University of Toronto that uses big data to track and analyze risks posed by global infectious diseases, has closed a Series A round. Horizons Ventures was the main investor — it’s the private investment arm of Asian businessman Li Ka-shing, according to a company statement. The move comes as analytical tools are increasingly being used by public health organizations to track people and livestock for the Ebola virus, West Nile virus, MERS, bird and swine flu.

BlueDot is the commercial arm of Dr. Kamran Khan’s academic research program called BioDiaspora, developed at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s. BioDiaspora models how infectious diseases can spread and affect groups of people by analyzing big data such as the annual movements of more than 3 billion travelers on commercial flights; human, animal and insect population data; climate data from satellites; and news reports of disease outbreaks, according to a statement on St Michael’s website. The program got its start following the SARS outbreak in 2003, the statement said.

Although the financial details of the investment were not disclosed, BlueDot has received seed funding from other sources. MaRS Innovation had previously provided $400,000 in seed funding and worked with BlueDot and St. Michael’s to incorporate the company and develop its initial go-to-market plan. Ontario Centres of Excellence provided $140,000 in commercialization grants that helped BlueDot get off the ground.

Among Horizon’s other investments are Facebook, Waze, Skype, Spotify and Siri.

BlueDot collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and HealthMap on an app to track the spread of Ebola and other viruses called BioMosaic.