Deals

Focused on data and drug development, SoftBank hunts new $1B biotech deals — report

Vivek Ramaswamy

SoftBank’s mammoth $1.1 billion investment in Vivek Ramaswamy’s Roivant Sciences won’t likely be its last in biotech.

Quoting sources familiar with the deal, Bloomberg is reporting that the Japanese group’s global $100 billion equity fund has begun a recruitment campaign for scientists with an eye to backing more companies that use new data technology to identify drugs with solid development potential.

One of the companies that SoftBank has reportedly been in touch with is BenevolentAI, one of a small clutch of companies that uses artificial intelligence to spotlight new drugs. In Roivant’s case, some of SoftBank’s money will be used to back up a fledgling new company which will expand the biotech group’s ability to hunt down sidelined therapies with overlooked potential.

Ramaswamy has made a business in spawning biotechs with therapies taken off the shelves of some big players, and with GSK, Biogen, Eli Lilly, Alexion and others all looking to revamp their pipelines, there will likely be a slate of new startups coming out of major players’ R&D groups.

According to CB Insights, BenevolentAI has a startup value of $1.7 billion, highlighting the sky-high hopes this field has sparked. The London papers have reported recently the company is adding dozens of new staffers to build their talent pool in bioinformatics and drug discovery. Bloomberg notes that there’s no guarantee of any alliance between the AI player and SoftBank.


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