The Nested Knowledge AI-assisted SaaS evidence synthesis platform makes clinical research processes faster, updatable, and more powerful – transforming a critical and time-consuming process that ultimately informs and supports health systems around the world.

Founded by four University of Minnesota alumni, Nested Knowledge is a powerful platform out to revolutionize clinical research. With Nested Knowledge, review, synthesis, and meta-analysis of clinical evidence happens in a single spot with its systematic review software. This turns the current static, time-consuming, and fragmented process into a living, learning, and updatable repository of foundational clinical data essential for Health Economics Outcome Research (HEOR), regulatory and compliance, medical affairs, and academic research.

An NIH assignment kindles inspiration

It all started in 2018 when Kevin Kallmes, Nested Knowledge’s founder and CEO, accepted an internship with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Asked to do a literature review, he painstakingly created an Excel spreadsheet, nesting the information in ever greater detail in linked spreadsheets. When a trip took him to Boston, he met with Karl Holub, Nested Knowledge CTO (then at TripAdvisor), and shared the challenge of pulling the research together. With one look, Karl knew there would be a much better way to accomplish the highly manual, work-intensive task of literature review. Recognizing how universal and high-impact reviews are across medicine, they set out to build a new standard for this critical process.

With the singular idea of improving the process of literature review and synthesis, Kevin and Karl contacted Keith Kallmes and Stephen Mead, friends from the UMN who were then traveling together in Germany. Both are now president and chief engineer of Nested Knowledge, respectively.

“We heard the idea and understood the profound impact it could have,” explained Keith Kallmes. “And we all said – ‘Let’s do it. This doesn’t exist and it should exist.’ That was the genesis that led to where we are today.”

Targeting the right first audience for success

Nested Knowledge rolled out the first version of its software in 2019. The current iteration and workflow have been in use for 2 ½ years by leading health economists and consultants. Beyond the essential task of developing the software platform, one of the most important predictors of success for an emerging software company is selecting that first viable market that can deliver revenue and traction. With founders having backgrounds in medical devices, they naturally understood the pain points of complying with regulatory requirements, and while obvious, it wasn’t the best first market for the nascent company.

“As soon as I began talking to advisors, they understood that Nested Knowledge could fulfill a big unmet need,” Keith shared. “But the unmet need is larger and the stakes are much higher for pharma companies and their partners in Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR), supporting reimbursement research. On average, it takes $7 billion to get a pharmaceutical product approved – and demonstrating clinical safety and efficacy, as well as cost-effectiveness, is the most crucial use of evidence to get life-saving therapies to market.”

Understanding where to focus helped the company make inroads for the burgeoning solution with the leading researchers in HEOR. Today, Nested Knowledge has strong and growing penetration into HEOR and medical affairs markets, working in tandem with leading research providers to pharma companies. The company has also begun expanding into the emerging medical device market with new regulations in Europe on the horizon.

Gaining essential knowledge to grow

As the company made early inroads, Keith realized that having a resource for ongoing guidance and support would make a difference in the young company’s learning curve. He discovered MESA, and in April of 2022 began a mentoring relationship with two experienced MESA mentors: Jim Moar and Ivan Pandiyan. That relationship continues today with monthly meetings.

Keith understood the business of medical devices, but building and growing a SaaS business was new. Having seasoned software executives and serial entrepreneurs who have faced down and solved similar issues was a way to leverage ‘been there, done that experience’,  jump-start his knowledge, and move the business along with more speed.

“What I get with my MESA mentors is a pair of non-judgmental, unconflicted voices of reason that I can bounce ideas off of and get objective criteria for success and for failure. Everyone else within or associated with the business is giving me advice that is biased or based on personal interest. This is a unique relationship with no strings attached, other than our success.”

Jim Moar, MESA president and mentor added, “The most effective entrepreneurs that MESA works with take the experienced input from their mentors and make it their own by combining it with their powerful domain knowledge. The result is greater focus, increased speed, and better results. Keith is excellent in this regard and a delight to work with.”

A one-stop solution for clinical questions

Nested Knowledge offers full access to the libraries of biomedical citations like PubMed and delivers a complete solution for data collection, systematic review of clinical literature, meta-analysis, and publication of research. Rather than relying on static PDFs, the platform delivers a more advanced process to conduct comprehensive literature reviews interactively and visually based on research questions of interest. Best of all, Nested Knowledge leverages the power of AI – natural language processing, machine learning, and large language processing – to make the process faster, better, easier, and tailored to users’ specific interests and needs.

The platform has gained significant traction in the market, doubling the user base in target markets in the past year. In December, the company announced a strategic partnership with Open Health, a preeminent global provider of consulting, HEOR and market access, patient engagement, and scientific and creative communications services. Together, Nested Knowledge and Open Health aim to enhance the speed, efficiency, and depth of evidence synthesis to aid biopharmaceutical researchers in making crucial healthcare decisions and bringing products to market more quickly. With rapidly growing use to support pharma, partnerships with leading industry vendors, and a development plan to enhance automations and AI assistance within the software, Nested Knowledge is poised to expand into new markets and make its vision of being the one digital infrastructure for clinical outcomes research that everyone relies on.

Ivan Pandiyan, MESA mentor concluded, “I am continually impressed by Keith’s openness to new perspectives. I believe that Nested Knowledge has high growth potential in the clinical research space, especially with its AI focus into the future.”


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