Here at Vantage, we designed our Female Founder Growth Series to provide women-led businesses with the tools to shine in front of investors.
The gender funding gap is substantial, with only 2% of VC funding being awarded to female founders.
To address this, major changes need to be implemented within the finance sector, from the top-down.
But something we can do from the ground-up is to inspire more women to pursue their business dreams, and let them know that in a male dominated startup ecosystem - they can succeed.
One way of doing this is to showcase incredible female founders, and share their highs, lows, challenges, and successes.
Q: Tell me a bit about yourself, and the overall mission of Neucruit.
“I’m Liv, founder at Neucruit. I started Neucruit two and a half years ago to transform clinical development. My background is in neural computation and I discovered this idea after working in phantom limb pain research, helping post-amputee patients find clinical studies for their pain as well as at an early-stage biotech that subsequently IPO’d”.
Following her initial experience in academic clinical research, Livia’s work within a Biotech startup taught her that many of the difficulties faced within research were also reflected in the commercial clinical development process.
“I began working for an early-stage Biotech, which was bringing a ground-breaking antidepressant to market.”
“Founding teams at biotech and biopharma companies face, on average, a 12-year timeline from drug discovery to market access. Delays in patient recruitment can really impact these timelines, leading to site retention and market opportunity costs.”
Neucruit’s mission is to improve the lives of heroes building and developing transformative therapeutics for patients, by transforming complexity into simplicity.
By achieving this mission, Livia and the Neucruit team aim to reduce the timeline of delivering life-changing medications for patients.
“I began working on Neucruit full-time in April 2020, and since then we’ve successfully raised two rounds of funding, and have built a world-class team that is representative of the world with diversity in age, gender, cultural backgrounds and disciplines.”
Experienced industry experts have since entered Neucruit’s expanding team, such as Mike Emmanuel – who previously worked at Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson as Head of Clinical Development.
Q: What does the process of clinical trial recruitment with Neucruit look like? And how does Neucruit work to advance the facilitation and planning of patient recruitment?
Livia explained that Neucruit focuses on patient-designed patient recruitment.
“What I mean by that is that every decision in our strategy is shaped by how patients truly feel about their conditions, about how patients want information to be displayed to them, and about how patients best respond to a clinical trials microsite.”
Neucruit uses AI and data mapping to execute their patient-centred approach to clinical recruitment, as well as being influenced by critical feedback from patient advocate partners and communities of patients of specific conditions.
Q: Can you tell me about how you came to the decision that traditional clinical trial recruitment needed to be advanced?
Livia’s mission with Neucruit was never to tear up the rule book and reconfigure the clinical recruitment process from scratch.
Instead, she set out to complement existing strategies, work together with currently operating site teams, and facilitate the incredible innovation they’re undertaking.
“We're not replacing traditional clinical recruitment. Neucruit is all about a collaborative effort to help teams reach their enrolment target faster, or on time. And this requires improving accessibility to patients.”
Livia highlighted that within traditional patient recruitment, you’re only able to capture the patients who are coming to the hospital where the clinical trial is being run – and this is severely limiting.
With Neucruit’s first-of-its-kind platform, Livia has increased accessibility to clinical trials by opening them up to a wider pool of patients, such as those who don’t use one particular hospital as their primary care facility.
Q: How do you think an opitmised patient recruitment model will benefit medical innovation?
Livia noted the core medical areas that Neucruit works within:
“Patient recruitment for central nervous system diseases is our bread and butter. We also support a broad range of therapeutic areas using digital therapeutics and MedTech. These have included studies assessing novel therapeutics in skin conditions, metabolic disorders, and so on.”
As Neucruit’s product develops, and the business scales over time, there’s no question that its technology will benefit an increasing number of conditions whilst maintaining its expert specialisation in certain fields.
Q: In terms of fundraising, what are your next steps for Neucruit? Do you have any exciting plans for the future?
Having successfully raised two funding rounds, Neucruit is an established, operating, and growing business. But Livia’s ambition shows no signs of letting up.
For Neucruit, growth is happening in both team size and client base. In addition, a sustained mission is to acquire the funding they need to fuel the research and development behind their product.
“In terms of fundraising, I feel like that’s something I’ll just have to consistently be working at over time. I'm always speaking to new investors, and building relationships - even on an informal basis - with funding bodies that have shown interest in being part of our journey in the future.”
Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge that female founders face, if any?
It’s hard to ignore that as a female founder, the odds are stacked against you. Livia acknowledged that “there are definitely challenges from a probabilistic standpoint - it's very improbable that you're going to be able to succeed as a female founder.”
Over time, however, it’s apparent that working cultures are playing a more influential role - not only in investment and collaboration, but right the way down to the hiring level.
The awareness of distinct cultures, Livia points out, offers hope for female founders looking to scale their business through investment.
“There will always be people who prefer to invest in a certain type of person that aligns with their culture, and that's OK. I think society is evolving in a way that allows diverse founders to find investors that fit the cultures they want to build within their companies.”
The argument that there’s room for resourceful entrepreneurs to succeed is undoubtable, and we have Venture Capital firms dedicated to female and minority founders to thank for building a reputation of success with diverse businesses.
That’s not to say there’s no progress left to be made in bridging the gender funding gap, in both decision-making from the top of the finance sector down to empowering female founders at a human level.
Q: Have you benefitted from any entrepreneurial networks on your business journey?
Founders soon learn that it’s important to take all the help you can get when growing a business, and this is a philosophy that Livia has been following in expanding her networks.
“They say it takes a village to build a start-up. I have benefitted from learning from legendary founders and CEOs. It's great to speak with founders who have exited, and founders who are further along in their businesses, or even in totally different industries to help understand how they've grown.”
Livia is currently enrolled on the P4 programme, which creates an ecosystem for precision medicine to scale. She spoke of how beneficial this network had been for her as a founder, having collaborated with mentors that have had significant contributions to Neucruit’s growth.
Addressing the underrepresentation of female founders can not only help to close the female funding gap, but also combat unconscious bias and outdated depictions of what it means to be female.
Applications have just closed for the Spring Cohort of our Female Founder Growth Series.
The scheme was largely oversubscribed, so in response to popular demand, we’re running an Autumn Cohort later this year.
To sign up to the waitlist, you can register your interest here.
Developed from pinpointing the wants and needs of both female founders and VC investors, the Female Founder Growth Series features eight weekly workshops designed to get female entrepreneurs ‘investor-ready’, and maximise their chances of securing funding.