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Health & Pharma

Softbank splashes cash on AI-powered drug discovery in Exscientia’s $225 million Series D

by Ben Wodecki
Article ImageVision Fund 2 will be providing a further $300 million equity commitment

British AI-powered pharmatech startup Exscientia has closed a $225 million Series D funding round, led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2.

Softbank was joined by previous round lead investors, Novo Holdings; the Japanese venture capital fund is providing an additional $300 million equity commitment which Exscientia can draw at its discretion.

“With the convergence of technology and biology, drug discovery is rapidly evolving in ways that will reshape the industry. The Exscientia team has been leaders in AI-based drug discovery since the field's inception and we believe they will continue shaping its future," Eric Chen, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, said.

Other investors included Mubadala Investment Company, GT Healthcare Capital, and Laurion Capital.

Funding provides ‘freedom’

Funding secured in the round will be used to advance its proprietary pipeline through clinical testing, Exscientia said. It will also expand its technology platform toward autonomous drug design.

Exscientia said its platform "has built and integrated a broad array of AI and experimental technologies to capture and utilize the most patient-relevant data to precision design drugs for multiparameter optimization. [It] evaluates the target and mechanism through high content phenomics, novel biophysics, and deep learning from biological data."

The information the platform obtains is then translated into the design of precision drugs through proprietary AI algorithms driven by thousands of models, the company added.

“All of our investors share Exscientia’s vision to discover better drugs, faster, through AI and automation,” Andrew Hopkins, CEO of Exscientia, said.

“Our patient-first AI platform has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to precision design drugs that address patients’ needs. With the Series D completed, the quality and depth of our shareholder base allows us the freedom to continue to scale both our platform and pipeline.”

Last May, Exscientia entered into a collaborative partnership with American nonprofit research center SRI International, with the pair working to accelerate drug discovery by integrating AI-based design with automated compound synthesis.

Earlier this month, Exscientia and biotech firm Evotec developed the world’s second drug designed with the help of AI to reach Phase I clinical testing. The A2a receptor antagonist molecule they created could be used as a way to enable patients' immune systems to better fight against solid cancer tumors.

Exscientia said it now has over 20 active programs in its pipeline.

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