After attracting multiple Chinese pharma partners, XtalPi grabs another $400M to refine AI for drug discovery
Building the kind of artificial intelligence infrastructure required to make a dent in drug discovery takes real money — money that investors have been happy to lavish. Big players, or emerging ones flush with cash, are now popping up on the map in every direction you look: Exscientia in Oxford, UK; Daphne Koller’s insitro in San Francisco; Recursion in Utah; Deep Genomics in Toronto; and Insilico in Hong Kong.
And in Shenzhen, China, there’s XtalPi.
Barely a year after hauling in $318 million, the AI player is one-upping itself with a $400 million Series D, reportedly bringing its valuation over the $2 billion mark.
Japan’s SoftBank, which has played a prominent role in other similar investments, is an existing backer alongside the tech giants Google and Tencent. This round, though, is led by OrbiMed and RRJ, with participation from Sequoia Capital, Sino Biopharmecutical and 5Y Capital.
First founded in Cambridge, MA by three MIT researchers — including CEO Jian Ma — XtalPi boasts of a platform, dubbed ID4, that can predict characteristics of drug compounds (mostly small molecules) by measuring chemical indicators.
With a slate of partnerships with domestic drugmakers already in place, XtalPi likes to say its algorithms are driving the development of a number of cancer drugs — at places like 3D Medicines, GeneQuantum Healthcare, Huadong Medicine and Signet Therapeutics.
“In the future, AI pharmaceutical companies have the opportunity to become giants like water or power companies, and create immense social value,” one unnamed investor told local media 36kr.