The German company Biontech is acquiring its British cooperation partner InstaDeep for up to 562 million British pounds. With the acquisition, Biontech aims to strengthen itself in the field of AI and expand its position as a technology company.
German vaccine company Biontech is acquiring 100 percent of its previous UK collaboration partner. Biontech is paying 362 million British pounds upfront in a mix of cash and shares. Another 200 million British pounds may flow in the form of performance-based milestone payments.
The acquisition is expected to be completed in the first half of 2023. Biontech is particularly known for its Covid vaccine.
Strengthening the “tech” in Biontech
The acquisition is intended to strengthen the “tech” in the company’s own name, Biontech writes. The two companies have been collaborating since 2019, and in November 2020 they announced a multi-year strategic collaboration and the creation of a joint AI Innovation Lab.
The acquisition is expected to add 240 highly skilled professionals to the Biontech team, including teams in AI, ML, bioengineering, data science, and software development.
We aim to strengthen the “tech” in BioNTech with our agreement to acquire @instadeepai to support our strategy to build world leading capabilities in #AI– and #ML-driven #drugdiscovery and development of next-generation immunotherapies and vaccines. https://t.co/xIfF7mvZMB pic.twitter.com/XHh0Y009fK
— BioNTech SE (@BioNTech_Group) January 10, 2023
Biontech’s focus since its founding has been on computational solutions for personalized immunotherapies, said Biontech CEO and Co-founder Uğur Şahin. The acquisition will enable Biontech to integrate “the rapidly evolving AI capabilities” into its technologies, research, drug discovery, manufacturing, and deployment processes.
The shared vision is a world-leading company that combines biopharmaceutical research and artificial intelligence for “next-generation immunotherapies.” It aims to help fight cancer and other diseases with high unmet medical needs, according to Karim Beguir, CEO and co-founder of InstaDeep.
Develop and test new drugs faster
The AI models acquired with InstaDeep will be integrated into Biontech’s research platforms and linked to an integrated automated laboratory infrastructure. The goal is to enable high-throughput design and testing of novel drug candidates at scale. Biontech also plans to develop new AI solutions and “deploy them in key strategic and operational functions.”
AI as a foundational technology has the potential to accelerate other sciences. This is demonstrated, for example, by Deepmind’s Alphafold for protein folding prediction, which outperforms existing methods and thus accelerates medical research.
In AI medicine, Biontech has prominent competition: Deepmind and parent company Alphabet formed Isomorphic Labs in 2021 to bring AI to medical practice.