Augmenting reality for pharma manufacturers has brought New Jersey-based Apprentice.io lots of investment—a Series A round of $8 million in September of 2018, followed by a Series B boost of $24 million during the first eight months of the pandemic.
Now comes an influx of $100 million in a Series C financing round as Apprentice.io aims to help manufacturers fortify their supply chains against threats from the spread of the omicron variant.
The timing was right for the arrival of Apprentice.io and its augmented reality technology, which has helped drugmakers work through the pandemic. To date, it has helped facilitate manufacturing of 370 million vaccine doses.
“Having a system that helps support remote collaboration during those days was really valuable to our customers,” Marie Forshaw, Apprentice.io’s VP of marketing, said in an interview.
For all the innovation that the biopharmaceutical industry has brought to bear in developing treatments to combat diseases, manufacturers of pharma products have been slow to adopt the latest technological advances. The move from on-premises to cloud computing has happened across many industries, but pharma manufacturing has been hesitant to change—and with good reason, considering cybersecurity protocols and pharma regulatory standards.
But Apprentice.io has helped show them the way. The company’s leadership team is a mix of people from high-growth tech companies and from the pharma industry.
“Our overall mission is to bring those two worlds together for the overall benefit of those who consume drugs and medicines—which is all of us,” Forshaw said.
Once the pandemic began—given the travel restrictions and the potential for supply chain disruption—the benefits of digitization were too great to ignore. It soon became clear that augmented reality and remote collaboration tools were vital for the quick scale-up of manufacturing. Additionally, monitoring these processes remotely from a centralized location took on added importance.
Apprentice.io was ideally suited to meet the demand with kits that provided the capability of connecting remotely. The kits also have become widely used for factory acceptance testing.
“Whereas pharma was flying people around the globe before, moving their experts from one place to another to help consult on the process and do the tech transfer and get the facilities set up, they can do that remotely with Apprentice,” Forshaw said. “You can give someone a first-person view of the suite through the headset.”