The cash won't stop for Exscientia as it makes a $300M+ Nasdaq debut
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An AI biotech with little human data — but lots of hype — is once again drowning in cash.
Exscientia priced its IPO late Thursday evening, announcing it pulled in $304.7 million with the raise. The public debut marks Exscientia’s third nine-figure raise of the year, after the biotech expanded its Series C to $100 million in March and raised more than half a billion dollars in a pair of financings in April. Exscientia shares will begin trading Friday at $22 apiece under the ticker $EXAI.
Thursday, too, saw Exscientia raise more than just the IPO. In conjunction with the pricing, the Oxford, UK-based biotech got another $160 million in private placements from SoftBank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
With the debut, details about the big IPO winners are coming into focus. The biggest shareholder is now SoftBank, which will get a 16.3% stake after the offering. CEO Andrew Hopkins is second on the list with 15.8% of shares.
But also notable are the stakes from Evotec, Novo Holdings and Bristol Myers Squibb. Evotec and Novo will each get about 11-12% of shares when the offering closes, and Bristol Myers is cashing in on an old Celgene deal with a 4.7% stake. The Big Pharma expanded a Celgene-era deal with Exscientia earlier this year, promising up to $1.2 billion in milestones in May.
The biotech has remained busy at the dealmaking table. Exscientia followed that up with a small acquisition for the molecule-screening biotech Allcyte in June — using SoftBank’s cash — and less than two weeks later joined forces with EQRx.
AI-focused biotechs have proven largely successful at luring investors with bold promises about their technology, with Exscientia’s efforts at the forefront. The company has promised to cut down on the lengthy drug development process by months, if not years, and is joining one of its main competitors on Nasdaq in Recursion Pharmaceuticals.
Recursion’s IPO came in a bit larger at $436.4 million, but both companies claimed to plant the important AI milestone flag — being the first biotech to put an AI-developed drug into the clinic. Recursion did so in July 2019, though the biotech has said the program came out of Dean Li’s old lab before he joined Merck.
Exscientia, meanwhile, made its claim in January 2020 with a candidate developed in partnership with Sumitomo Dainippon. The program emerged after the pair synthesized 350 compounds and tested them in a lab before deciding on one to move forward. But regardless of which biotech is really the first to develop a drug with AI, both continue to attract significant investment and partnerships.
Also waiting in the IPO wings is the machine learning biotech insitro, which hasn’t announced plans to go public just yet but raked in $400 million in a Series C this past March. Exscientia plans to spend between $50 million and $75 million on pushing its platform forward, with another $25 million to $50 million slated to complete a Phase I study for EXS21546.
As the calendar turns to the fourth quarter Friday, the biotech IPO market is beginning to stir once again. Exscientia’s debut pushed the total combined raise past $13.5 billion, per the Endpoints News tally, and the industry remains on pace to eclipse 2020’s record raise of $16.5 billion. But after a summer slowdown, the race will likely come down to the wire.
Clarification: This article has been clarified to more accurately reflect the nature of SoftBank’s stake in Exscientia. SoftBank controls the shares, not partner Joanne Xu.