BenevolentAI, which raised a staggering $115m last month, has appointed Joanna Shields, the former  UK Minister for Internet Security & Safety, as its new group CEO.

Shields, the former special advisor to the UK government on the Digital Economy and chair and CEO of TechCityUK, will join the company with immediate effect.

Prior to working with government, Shields spent over two decades in senior leadership positions at firms including Facebook, Bebo/AOL and Google.

Shields commented on the announcement: “After five years in public service I wanted to return to building a business again, but it had to be a business with a mission of consequence.  

“I can’t think of a more important endeavour than improving the quality of people’s lives ​and health ​through the kind of innovations we are exploring at BenevolentAI.  

“The company is creating technology that accelerates the ​discovery and development of breakthrough therapies at an unprecedented scale. But this bold journey isn’t ours alone.  These developments will positively impact the lives of many millions of people.”

BenevolentAI is backed by investors including Lansdowne Partners and Upsher Smith Laboratories.

The firm has managed to raise $200m over the past five years.

Ken Mulvany, the founder and chairman of BenevolentAI spoke about the news: “Joanna is a business builder with a strong leadership track record in growing companies with state-of-the-art, disruptive technology at their heart.  

“Joanna’s appointment demonstrates the trajectory at which we intend to grow BenevolentAI and points to the impact that we want to make as a company in applying artificial intelligence to accelerate scientific innovation,” Mulvany concluded.

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