BioNTech SE will pay £562m in cash to acquire its former partner InstaDeep Ltd. to expand its capabilities in AI-based drug discovery.
According to Biontech, the acquisition is part of its strategy to “build world-leading capabilities in AI-driven drug discovery and the development of next-generation immunotherapies and vaccines to address diseases with high unmet medical needs”. In addition to the approximately 240 highly skilled professionals with expertise in AI, ML, bioengineering, data science and software development, the Mainz-based company will also gain access to a network of global research collaborations in this field and presences of the combined company in locations in the US, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. This is of enormous importance for recruiting employees in these high-demand fields, the company says.
The acquisition builds on the successful collaboration between the two companies that has been in place since 2019: In autumn 2020, they had announced a multi-year strategic collaboration as well as the establishment of a joint AI Innovation Lab, using the latest AI and ML technology to develop novel medicines for a range of cancers and infectious diseases.
The companies have already developed several AI-based end-to-end applications such as on neoantigen selection, ribological sequence optimisation for Biontech’s RiboCytokine and RiboMab platforms, and the development of an early warning system to detect and monitor SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern based on their ability to evade immune protection and their transmission potential.
The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2023, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Upon closing, InstaDeep will operate as a UK-based global subsidiary of BioNTech.