HealthMatch, a five-year-old medical tech similar to Tinder for clinical trials, matching researchers and patients, has been forced to cut its team in half and cut 18 jobs as the local tech sector braces for a long winter boot.

The cuts come 18 months after Paul Bassat’s Square Peg Capital led an $18 million round in the Sydney-based startup, which uses machine learning to automate clinical trials for contract research companies. Other lenders in that December 2020 increase were Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull and Tempus Partners.

Square Peg also ran a $6 million Series A in late 2019.

HealthMatch was founded in 2017 by Manuri Gunawardena, then a senior medical student at the University of Sydney, who sees a potential new investment “valley of death” opening for startups like hers.

“There are several factors that have created downward pressure on technology stocks and the broader market that have had a very significant effect on capital raising, especially for growth-stage companies,” she said.

“The result is a significantly longer and riskier fundraising market for companies of our rank as investors across the board have pulled out extensively.”

Gunawardena has “built a great team and culture” and is devastated to make such a difficult decision.

“It was an incredibly difficult decision to lay off a significant part of the team and we worked tirelessly to avoid it,” she said.

“Nobody wants to be in the position of having to say goodbye to brilliant people. HealthMatch has an incredibly close-knit team and culture, and everyone who works at HealthMatch has joined because they want to contribute to our mission and help patients.

“It is certainly a difficult time for everyone on the team, but we are united and driven to make a difference in patients’ lives. The whole team understands very well why we need to take these measures and wants to see the best for the company, regardless of their individual position.”

The company has expanded into the US and now has more than one million patients in its database that HealthMatch uses to find and access clinical trials worldwide.

Gunawardena said she is working closely with their existing and new investors to continue the company’s mission despite current market conditions.

“My focus right now is twofold: to ensure HealthMatch navigate through this difficult time, continue to help more patients in need, and most importantly, to personally do everything I can to ensure that our team who are affected at all possible ways to make sure they land properly,” she said.

Winter is coming

The news of the job loss comes on the same day that neobank Volt announced its closure after three years, with the loss of 140 jobs.

Volt was looking for $200 million in a Series F after raising $100 million in 2021, but couldn’t find any new backers, so the board pulled the pin.

Volt co-founder and CEO Steve Weston said they were “deeply disappointed to have reached this point” as the bank pays back more than $100 million in deposits to customers.

“In making this difficult decision, we considered all options, but in the end we made this decision in the best interest of our customers,” he said.

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