Synthetic data trailblazer and CHEO Research Institute spin-off, Replica Analytics, acquired by Aetion signalling CHEO as a place for incubating start-ups


Ottawa, Ontario — Thursday March 24, 2022

Replica Analytics, a start-up specializing in synthetic data generation (SDG) which was incubated at the CHEO Research Institute and the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine, was recently acquired by Aetion, the leading regulatory-grade real-world evidence (RWE) technology provider. This new development illustrates how commercialization can be an effective way to accelerate the transition of academic research into practice, within Canada and globally.

Dr. Khaled El Emam, a professor at the University of Ottawa who co-founded Replica in 2019, heads up the CHEO Research Institute’s Electronic Health Information Laboratory (EHIL), where he conducts applied research and develops technology, such as synthetic data generation, to facilitate the sharing of electronic health information for secondary purposes while protecting privacy. Replica is Dr. El Emam’s second successful spin-off from the CHEO Research Institute.

SDG is a privacy enhancing technology gaining rapid adoption, particularly in healthcare, and Replica has been at the forefront of these developments. A machine learning model is built that generates new, synthetic data that closely capture the statistical properties and patterns in real datasets. Because there is no one-to-one mapping back to a person, synthetic data can be shared more freely, addressing many of the administrative and regulatory constraints that exist with real personal data.

“The CHEO Research Institute has been very supportive, recognizing the societal and economic impacts that can come from enabling the commercialization of academic research, which is also important for the research funding agencies themselves,” said Dr. El Emam. “Meanwhile, the company’s close ties with both EHIL and the University give us a unique opportunity to develop and attract new talent to work on these game-changing technologies.”

The Replica success story is one illustration of the Research Institute’s work in this area and CHEO’s broader commitment to streamline the development of health innovations aimed at improving the lives of Canadians, an area where they are increasingly investing. With the creation of a new Innovation and Commercialization research core at the institute, as well as efforts to create a new regional program focused on translating early-stage innovation emerging from Eastern Ontario’s health professionals into product-focused companies, CHEO is building a rich support ecosystem to help transform research into high impact products and services for children and families.

“There is a strong culture of research and innovation at CHEO that motivates and challenges the best and brightest minds. Our mission is to connect exceptional talent and technology in pursuit of life-changing research for every child, youth and family in our community and beyond,” said Jason Berman, CEO and Scientific Director of the Research Institute and VP of Research at CHEO. “Through successful commercialization efforts, such as Replica, we are demonstrating the benefits of bridging the academic research world with industry partners.”

Replica’s pioneering solutions will add another next-generation analytical tool to the New York-based Aetion’s growing technology toolbox and help to address one of the toughest problems in RWE: access to fit-for-purpose data to help solve important healthcare issues.

“Replica enhances Aetion’s technology portfolio to open access to previously inaccessible real-world data,” said Dr. Jeremy Rassen, Co-Founder and President of Aetion. “Our shared belief in rooting technology innovation in scientific rigor assures that together Replica and Aetion can accelerate the impact of RWE on improving access to higher quality, more affordable healthcare, globally.”

Replica is now advancing its mission to protect privacy while making the world’s health data responsibly accessible for decision-grade RWE as a subsidiary of Aetion.

About Replica Analytics

Replica Analytics is a developer of unique technologies for generating privacy protective synthetic data that maintains the statistical properties of real data. The Replica Synthesis software provides a full suite of synthetic data generation and evaluation capabilities that can solve multiple grand challenges facing the life sciences industry, and health research in general. Synthetic data enables rapid innovation by accelerating the development of AI models and accelerating clinical studies through data simulations. For more information, visit:

About the CHEO Research Institute

The CHEO Research Institute coordinates the research activities of CHEO and is affiliated with the University of Ottawa. The seven programs of research at CHEO RI focus on a full spectrum of pediatric topics. Key themes include cancer, diabetes, obesity, mental health, emergency medicine, musculoskeletal health, electronic health information and privacy, and genetics of rare disease. At the CHEO Research Institute, discoveries inspire the best life for every child and youth. For more information, visit

About Aetion

Aetion is a healthcare analytics company that delivers real-world evidence for the manufacturers, purchasers, and regulators of medical treatments and technologies. The Aetion Evidence Platform® analyzes data from the real world to produce transparent, rapid, and scientifically validated answers on safety, effectiveness, and value. Founded by Harvard Medical School faculty members with decades of experience in epidemiology and health outcomes research, Aetion informs healthcare’s most critical decisions—what works best, for whom, and when—to guide product development, commercialization, and payment innovation. Aetion is based in New York City and backed by investors including Warburg Pincus, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Flare Capital Partners, Greenspring Associates, Lakestar, B Capital, Foresite Capital, Town Hall Ventures, McKesson Ventures, Sanofi Ventures, EDBI, Johnson & Johnson Innovation—JJDC, Inc., UCB, Amgen Ventures, and Horizon Health Services, Inc. Learn more at follow us at @aetioninc

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