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Robin Li, Baidu CEO, at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai, July 9, 2020 (Zhai Huiyong, Imaginechina via AP Images)

As Chi­na's tech gi­ants catch on­to biotech, Baidu plots $2B start­up fo­cused on di­ag­no­sis, AI drug dis­cov­ery

When China’s biggest search engine builder forays into biotech, expect it to move in large strides.

Baidu is reportedly scouting around for investors to collectively put $2 billion behind a biotech startup that would leverage its artificial intelligence technologies in disease diagnosis and drug discovery — following in the footsteps of American tech giants while joining its Chinese counterparts in making healthcare investments.

Geoff von Maltzahn, Molly Gibson, Avak Kahvejian, Gevorg Grigoryan (Flagship)

FL56+FL57= in­fi­nite pos­si­bil­i­ties? Flag­ship's hy­brid start­up takes ma­chine learn­ing in drug dis­cov­ery to the next lev­el — and Covid-19 of­fers a quick test

On his faculty directory page at Dartmouth, Gevorg Grigoryan is unequivocal about his key fascination: “understanding the language of proteins.”

For the longtime researcher of computational protein design, it means uncovering the generalizable principles that govern the structure of biology’s fundamental building blocks. A comprehensive statistical analysis of all the molecules in the Protein Data Bank back in 2016 yielded the key insight that proteins often transfer information in certain design elements dubbed tertiary structural motifs.

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Chris Gibson, Recursion CEO (Vaughn Ridley/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images)

Re­cur­sion nabs $239M and an up to $1B part­ner­ship with Bay­er as AI race heats up

Some biotechs struggle for cash. Recursion, lately, seems to be swimming in it.

Today, having already raised over $180 million in the last two years, the Salt Lake City-based AI drug developer announced a $239 million Series D. That’s more than any US or European biotech has raised in a round this year and more than all but two biotechs raised last year. (Mabwell, a Shanghai-based antibody developer, raised $278 million in a Series A in April.)

Hal Barron, GSK R&D chief

Build­ing up its AI op­er­a­tions, GSK opens a $13M Lon­don hub with plans to woo tal­ent now trekking to Sil­i­con Val­ley

Continuing its efforts to ramp up global AI operations, GlaxoSmithKline has opened a £10 million ($13 million-plus) research base in Kings Cross, London.

The AI hotspot is already home to Google’s DeepMind, and the Francis Crick and Alan Turing research institutes. GSK said it hopes to “tap into the huge London tech talent pool” and attract candidates who might otherwise head to Silicon Valley.

Alex Zhavoronkov (Insilico)

Weeks af­ter launch, Alex Zha­voronkov's AI-in­spired longevi­ty spin­out sells to Hong Kong-list­ed group

When Alex Zhavoronkov unveiled Insilico’s longevity-focused spinout, he kept the precise amount of Series A funding under wraps — disclosing only that it’s in the “few million” dollar range — but had its marquee syndicate on full display.

Human Longevity, a collaborator, co-led the round with ETP Ventures and Performance Impact Venture Fund, flanked by BOLD Capital Partners, Longevity Vision Fund, Oculus co-founder Michael Antonov through Formic Ventures and LongeVC.

Atomwise co-founders Abe Heifets and Izhar Wallach (photo courtesy Atomwise)

Plot­ting to be the Bridge­Bio of AI, Atom­wise lands $123 mil­lion Se­ries B for hype-heavy plat­form

The PR-friendly, well-partnered AI biotech that’s provoked stern skepticism in some scientific corners is getting a boatload of new cash.

Atomwise has announced a $123 million Series B round led by Sanabil Investments — a subsidiary of the Saudi royal fund — and B Capital Group and joined by DCVC and Y Combinator, among others. The new round is nearly triple what Atomwise had raised prior and will go towards both scaling their molecule-hunting software and building the growing network of spinouts they’re launching to develop some of the molecules that software has turned up.

Jean-François Pariseau (left) and Dion Madsen (Amplitude)

Am­pli­tude rais­es $50M to fu­el ‘emerg­ing’ Cana­di­an biotech field

Nine months and an IPO since they spun out the Business Development Bank of Canada’s healthcare arm into its own VC, the investors behind Amplitude have raised another $50 million to pour into Canada’s nascent biotech sector.

The new round, part of the CAD $200 million the firm is trying to raise for its first fund, will go primarily toward two areas: what founders Jean-François Pariseau and Dion Madsen see as an “emerging” targeted and cell therapy field in Vancouver and an emerging artificial intelligence field in Montreal. Similar to some of the bigger name VCs to their south, the partners will try to find promising science out of academic and innovation centers in the two metro areas, package them with some complementary and de-risking intellectual property and some new talent, and spin out biotechs.

Small AI biotech BioX­cel surges on pos­i­tive PhI­II re­sults, set­ting up de­men­tia and Alzheimer’s test

A small biotech added a few hundred million dollars in market value Monday morning after announcing positive Phase III results from their lead neurology drug.

The drug, known as BXCL501, comes from BioXcel, one of a slate of biotechs that has raised millions in recent years on the promise of using artificial intelligence and other advanced computational techniques to speed up the sluggish pace of drug development. Similar to the more prominent Recursion, the company aimed to use its tech to find compounds that other companies or researchers had validated to some degree and repurpose them, particularly in the areas of neurodegeneration, mental health and immuno-oncology.

Re­gen­eron joins $100M round for DNAnexus and its cloud-com­put­ing DNA soft­ware

DNAnexus has been accruing capital and customers for over a decade, since the DNA computing company spun out of Stanford in 2009. Now, two years after their last funding round, the company has raised its largest round yet, at $100 million, and secured what may be its most intriguing investor: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.

Using Amazon Web Services, DNAnexus provides a platform for researchers, regulators and companies to host and analyze their increasingly large sets of genomic data. In 2014, Regeneron was one of the major biotechs to partner with the company. They signed a deal to use DNAnexus’s platform cloud-computing software for translational work at the Regeneron Genetics Center, including by allowing the center to combine de-identified DNA samples with de-identified clinical information from healthcare providers to guide drug discovery.

Daphne Koller, insitro CEO (insitro)

Daphne Koller’s AI start­up gets $143M in new cash from a16z, oth­ers

Biotech is becoming saturated with machine learning companies promising to reinvent and hasten drug development, but few, if any, have amassed the war chest Daphne Koller has.

Entering Tuesday, the former Stanford professor, MacArthur Fellowship recipient, Coursera founder and chief computing officer of Google’s secretive anti-aging biotech Calico had raised $100 million for her AI startup insitro. Now she’s raised $143 million more.

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