Bill Gates-backed Oxford drug developer raises $525M funding led by Softbank

Based out of Oxford, Exscientia is a clinical-stage pharmatech company that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to design patient-based drugs. Recently, the company has secured a $225 million (approx £162 million) Series D funding round.

On top of that, SoftBank is providing an additional $300 million (approx £216 million) equity commitment that can be drawn at the company’s discretion.

The Series D round was led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, along with previous round lead investors, Novo Holdings, and funds managed by Blackrock. 

Other investors including, Mubadala Investment Company, Farallon Capital, Casdin Capital, GT Healthcare Capital, Marshall Wace, Pivotal bioVenture Partners, Laurion Capital, Hongkou, and Bristol Myers Squibb, also participated in the round. 

Back in March, Exscientia secured $100 million (approx £72 million) funding in Series C round managed by BlackRock. 

The funding will be used to advance Exscientia’s proprietary pipeline through clinical testing and to continue expanding the technology platform toward autonomous drug design. Notably, the company has advanced the first two fully AI-designed drugs into clinical trials and now has over 20 active programs in its pipeline.

Commenting on the investment, Eric Chen, Managing Partner of SoftBank Investment Advisers, said: “We believe Exscientia’s innovative use of AI to discover and design better quality drugs with greater efficiency has the potential to create important medicines faster than ever before. With the convergence of technology and biology, drug discovery is rapidly evolving in ways that will reshape the industry. The Exscientia team have been leaders in AI-based drug discovery since the field’s inception and we believe they will continue shaping its future.”

Uses AI to design medicine 

Founded by Andrew Hopkins in 2012, Exscientia uses AI across its platform from target identification through drug design and patient selection to precision engineering new medicines.

The UK company has built and integrated a broad array of AI and experimental technologies to capture and utilise the most patient-relevant data to precision design drugs for multiparameter optimisation. 

The company’s platform evaluates the target and mechanism through high content phenomics, novel biophysics, and deep learning from biological data. 

That information is then translated into the design of precision drugs through proprietary AI algorithms driven by thousands of models. 

To date, the company has been able to advance seven precision-designed drugs from project initiation to development candidate in an average time of 12 months. Exscientia has offices in Oxford, Miami, Osaka and Dundee.

Last year, the company received a two-year $4.2 million (approx £3 million ) grant from the Gates Foundation to apply its AI-based Centaur platforms to global health challenges including TB,  malaria, and non-hormonal contraception

Andrew Hopkins, CEO of Exscientia added, “All of our investors share Exscientia’s vision to discover better drugs, faster, through AI and automation. 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 allow us the freedom to continue to scale both our platform and pipeline.”