Biopharma giant sinking more than $1B into drug-discovery AI startup

AI company Exscientia has received a vote of confidence approaching $1.2 billion in value from Bristol-Myers Squibb.

The U.K.-based AI outfit says the Manhattan-headquartered drug player has agreed to fund its work with, for starters, up to $50 million upfront and as much as $125 million for hitting early and midway milestones.

Exscientia points out the agreement is an expansion of an existing partnership, as the company was collaborating with Celgene when Bristol-Myers Squibb acquired Celgene in 2019.

Under the pact, Exscientia is to design algorithms and conduct experiments aimed at identifying candidate formulas for new drugs.

“Molecules will be designed using Exscientia’s AI-driven drug discovery platform, which delivers optimized compounds fulfilling complex design goals faster and more effectively than traditional drug discovery,” the company says in press materials.

Reporting on the deal, the Financial Times of London notes that investments in AI-wielding pharma companies rose 30% in 2020 over the previous year.

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