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Cromatic team
Cromatic’s cloud-based vendor discovery platform, powered by AI and designed for the life sciences industry, hosts the largest curated database of global contract research organizations (CROs) and contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) in the industry, claims the Redwood City-based startup. Image credit: Cromatic

Cromatic unveils AI-powered ‘Sourcerer’ vendor search tool for outsourcing R&D in the life sciences

June 20, 2024

[Disclosure: AgFunder is the parent company of AgFunderNews.]


Cromatic—a startup building a platform for outsourcing life sciences research—has unveiled a new AI-powered tool enabling users to identify relevant contract research organizations (CROs) at the click of a button.

The Sourcerer matchmaker tool enables users to search a cloud-based global database curated by Cromatic under a specific topic or input their RFPs (request for proposals) and pull up a list of relevant vendors who they can either contact directly, or engage with on Cromatic’s platform via a ‘white glove’ service.

With more modern tooling, we aim to make outsourcing more efficient, effective, and accessible than ever before.” Anne Chen, cofounder and CTO, Cromatic

Cromatic team
Cromatic’s cloud-based vendor discovery platform, powered by AI and designed for the life sciences industry, hosts the largest curated database of global contract research organizations (CROs) and contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) in the industry, claims the Redwood City-based startup. Image credit: Cromatic

Curated database of CROs and CDMOs for life sciences

Unlike a google search, which will pull up “sponsored results and a handful of companies that are good at marketing,” says cofounder and CEO Dr. Ann Lin, Sourcerer prioritizes vendors whose services best match users’ needs as outlined in their RFPs.

Vendor profiles—which Cromatic has built with AI tools that scrape the internet, supported by data collected by its internal team and provided directly by CROs —are also listed in a consistent manner by company location, size, annual revenue, and a brief description.

This enables users to compare providers at a glance, adds Lin, who notes that while a growing percentage of R&D in pharma and biotech is outsourced, the CRO landscape is notoriously hard to navigate, with many firms wasting hours on internet searches or spending a fortune on consultants who may take weeks or months to identify potential partners.

“The other thing is that sometimes procurement teams that don’t necessarily understand the science are being tasked with identifying relevant vendors,” says Lin. “With Sourcerer, you don’t necessarily need to understand the science as you can drop in the RFP and Sourcerer generates a comprehensive list of vendors that meet the needs outlined in the RFP. The procurement team can then take this back to the scientists.”

As part of this process, Sourcerer will use AI to go through RFPs that might run into multiple pages to generate a distilled set of project objectives and criteria, and then generate a list of skills that will be required by vendors in order to meet the brief.

Users can then add or remove items from the list before submitting a search, says Lin, who has a PhD in genetics from Stanford and served as the scientific cofounder of machine-learning powered drug discovery platform Meliora Therapeutics before teaming up with software engineer Anne Chen (CTO) in 2022 to create Cromatic.

Cromatic Sourcerer
Image credit: Cromatic

SaaS model

Cromatic—which raised a $5.3 million seed round led by AgFunder and LifeX late last year—is introducing a free version of Sourcerer allowing users to perform a basic vendor search by inputting a single service (‘DNA sequencing’ for example). However, users that pay monthly or annual SaaS (software as a service) fees will get the full offering, which is significantly more affordable than hiring a consultant, says Lin.

“This isn’t just for small or medium size pharma or biotech companies. Some big pharma companies have a big project that they want to outsource and they are talking with consulting firms that are charging hundreds of thousands of dollars to identify a good shortlist of CROs.

“Big pharma companies spend years developing lists of preferred vendors, but the CRO world is also changing very rapidly, so their information is often out of date.”

While platforms such as scientist.com and scienceexchange offer matchmaking services in life sciences, says Lin, “they have been around for years and this problem [of finding and engaging with the right partners] still exists,” in part she claims because they provide quantity rather than quality when it comes to matches, and do not include collaboration tools for ongoing engagement with CROs, something Cromatic has built into its platform.

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