Ellison-backed med tech startup Project Ronin closes doors

Built on OCI, the cancer-focused analytics company struggled to find sufficient paying customers, one report claimed

A Larry Ellison-backed startup focused on bringing data analytics to the study and treatment of cancer has reportedly closed.

Founded in 2018, Project Ronin's mission was to improve cancer care by helping doctors and patients make better-informed decisions about treatment.

Project Ronin was founded by Dave Hodgson, a tech leader with a history in medicine; David Agus, the cancer expert who treated Steve Jobs (using "conventional" medicine, ie, medicine that exposes itself to the scientific method); serial health entrepreneur Rowan Chapman; and Larry Ellison, Oracle founder and CTO. But the startup will be shuttered, according to an internal memo.

Seen by Bloomberg, the missive said the company "will have a permanent mass layoff in connection with the closing of the company." As many as 150 employees are set to lose their jobs, the news outlet said. Ellison provided the seed funding for Project Ronin, but it has struggled to attract paying customers and ran out of funds to continue, Bloomberg said.

The Register has contacted Project Ronin and the Ellison Foundation to request comment.

In a statement from December last year, Oracle described the health data startup as a "pioneer that connects doctors, patients, and data through AI to empower better-informed cancer treatment decisions."

According to the Oracle statement, Project Ronin "selected Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) for its high performance, scalable compute power with NVIDIA, AMD, and Ampere processors and robust security."

It was noteworthy technically because it used a fully managed instance of open source database PostgreSQL and Redis services on OCI.

It claimed that: "Along with Oracle Generative AI, Ronin reduced the time it took oncologists to access critical data from 20 minutes to less than five minutes."

Dave Hodgson, CEO and cofounder of Project Ronin, said: "We're supplying data using machine learning hosted in Oracle Cloud to give oncologists real insights so they can decide with their patients on the best treatment plan and help answer that question."

Ellison has shown a growing interest in health and medical information technology in recent years. He also worked with Agus on a wellness project called Sensei.

Earlier this year, news emerged that the Oracle founder had become a leading contributor to the policy institute built by former UK prime minister Tony Blair. According to the Larry Ellison Foundation's IRS return filed late last year, Oracle's CTO and founder donated $33.83 million to the Tony Blair Institute (TBI) in 2021 and plans to contribute another $49.37 million in the near future.

In 2022, Oracle closed the deal to buy health records software company Cerner for $28.3 billion. Oracle Global Business Units executive veep Mike Sicilia said Big Red planned to modernize Cerner's systems and move them to the Gen2 Cloud, which he said could be done quickly as some of Cerner's most prized systems already run on the Oracle Database.

Later that year, Ellison warned in a conference keynote that healthcare costs could "bankrupt Western civilization unless we find a more efficient way of providing healthcare to everybody." ®

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