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University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships
University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships

U-M Startup Ripple Addresses Clinical Trial Bottleneck


Created from technology developed at the University of Michigan, Ripple Science Corporation is focused on addressing a common pain point in research labs: recruiting and managing participants for clinical trials and translational research.

Ripple co-founder Jacob Bonenberger explained, “Ripple isn’t tackling an uncommon problem — all researchers struggle with poor recruitment. In fact, it’s the main reason why trials fail.”

Ripple manages trial participants and the flow of participants through the research process. “The most simple explanation is that it’s a customer relationship platform,” Bonenberger explained.

His co-founder, Dr. Nestor Lopez-Duran, developed Ripple’s technology to implement in his own laboratory. The initial prototype was based on feedback from those researchers – from changing the language of the platform to be more user-friendly and less ‘techie’ to making sure it covered all aspects of managing and recruiting trial participants. An extensive customer discovery process and a year-long beta trial with users at multiple universities resulted in the version that launched commercially in January.

On the company’s progression, Bonenberger admits, “It took a lot of time – five years – and help to get to where we are now. We received support from U-M Innovation Partnerships, the Center for Entrepreneurship, and grants from Ann Arbor SPARK and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.”

To obtain expert advice, guidance and funding, Ripple has managed to leverage the resources available through the entrepreneurial ecosystem surrounding U-M to create a strong foundation for future growth.

Ripple is currently raising $500,000 as it expands from its network of beta testers to the commercial market. 

“We are rigorously focused on the academic market because it’s a very underserved market, but we have a real opportunity to take a leadership stake as a first mover in the commercial clinical research market,” Bonenberger explained. “Contract research groups and organizations doing pharmaceutical trials are very different from our current market, but their challenges and goals are similar and well-suited to what Ripple offers.”

[Published March 3, 2017]