BioNTech acquires InstaDeep for £562m to boost drug discovery efforts

Following a multi-year partnership, German biotech company BioNTech has completed the acquisition of UK AI startup InstaDeep, to aid expansion beyond vaccine delivery.

Having previously prioritised Covid-19 vaccine development during the pandemic, BioNTech now aims to leverage machine learning in order to improve drug discovery for other illnesses including cancer, reports the Financial Times.

The two companies had previously collaborated on a system that predicts future variants of the Sars CoV-2 virus, and BioNTech participated in a £100m funding round initiated by London-based InstaDeep last year.

BioNTech is reportedly putting most of money made from its Covid vaccine, developed alongside Pfizer, towards its initial goal of improving cancer treatments.

According to BioNTech chief executive Uğur Şahin, the organisation has been focused on creating personalised treatments that operate in tune with the immune system — known as immunotherapies — since being established in 2008.

He said: “The acquisition of InstaDeep allows us to incorporate the rapidly evolving AI capabilities of the digital world into our technologies, research, drug discovery, manufacturing and deployment processes.

“Our aim is to make BioNTech a technology company where AI is seamlessly integrated into all aspects of our work.”

InstaDeep, founded in 2014, deals in artificial intelligence for businesses, with offices in London, Paris, Tunis, Lagos, Dubai and Cape Town.

Its chief executive and co-founder, Karim Beguir, believes that InstaDeep and its new parent company share the same “culture of deep tech innovation and focus on positive human impact”.

He added: “Together, we envision building a world leader that combines biopharmaceutical research and AI with the aim to design next-generation immunotherapies that enhance medical care — thus, helping fight cancer and other diseases.”

Machine learning is proving a trending technology in the pharmaceuticals space, capable of helping find more personalised treatments for diseases and ailments, with the likes of Sanofi and Bristol Myers Squibb also partnering with AI startups in recent times.

BioNTech’s acquisition of InstaDeep follows an agreement made with the UK government, pledging enrolment of 10,000 patients in clinical trials for treatments that aim to teach more effective mitigation of cancer tumours.


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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.