Dundee life sciences company Exscientia has set its sights on becoming the “dominant player” in the use of artificial intelligence to discover new drugs after a $26 million cash injection.
A spin-out from Dundee University, Exscientia is at the forefront of AI-driven drug discovery and design.
The firm has an office within the Technopole incubator off Hawkhill and last year opened a sister office in Oxford.
Exscientia said the Series B funding round will be used to “scale the company’s pipeline” and advance its programmes towards clinical development.
Professor Andrew Hopkins, CEO and founder of Exscientia, said: “This Series B marks a milestone in our development and enables us to drive the next phase of strong business growth.
“Over the past 12 months we have substantially expanded our operations and capabilities to become a full stack AI drug discovery company.
“With this new funding Exscientia is positioned to become the dominant player in AI drug discovery, driving radical change in R&D productivity.”
As well as announcing its new funding, Exscientia also detailed its latest partnership deal with Swiss-based firm Roche, that could potentially be worth up to 67 million Swiss Francs (£53.5m).
Exscientia will use its drug discovery platform to design pre-clinical drug candidates for Roche, who will have exclusive rights to develop and market drug candidates from the collaboration.
In return, the Dundee company will receive upfront and research funding as well as pre-clinical, development and commercial milestone payments.
It will also receive royalties on sales of any products resulting from the collaboration.
The deal marks Exscientia’s sixth drug discovery collaboration.
Mr Hopkins added: “The application of AI into early stage drug discovery has the potential to offer transformational benefits in terms of productivity and quality to the generation of new medicines.
“Increasingly, we are seeing in our own pipeline projects and with our ongoing collaborations, the success of our AI platform in drug discovery.
“This new partnership with Roche demonstrates the value of our AI-driven platform and its potential to deliver high value assets.”
The latest funding round included participation from new investors Celgene Corporation and specialist healthcare investor GT Healthcare Capital Partners, as well as Evotec AG, who previously provided €15m funding in 2017.