What is InstaDeep - the AI startup acquired by BioNTech?

After it was announced that InstaDeep would be acquired by BioNTech, AI Magazine looks at the leading AI startup and how it solves real-world problems

BioNTech has agreed a deal worth approximately US$680mn to acquire British AI startup InstaDeep to speed up its biotech research and manufacturing capabilities.

In a statement, the German biotech company announced it would acquire InstaDeep, in a deal with a potential value of £562mn - comprising £362mn in cash and future performance-based payments up to approximately £200mn.

Founded in 2014, InstaDeep is a leader in decision-making AI systems, with headquarters in London, and offices in Paris, Tunis, Lagos, Dubai and Cape Town.

With expertise in both machine intelligence research and concrete business deployments, InstaDeep gives its partners a competitive advantage in an AI-first world. Leveraging its extensive know-how in GPU-accelerated computing, deep learning and reinforcement learning, InstaDeep products, such as its DeepChain protein design platform, tackle the most complex challenges across a range of industries. 

InstaDeep has been named for two consecutive years to the CB Insights AI 100 ranking, showcasing the 100 most promising private artificial intelligence companies in the world. 

The company has developed collaborations with global leaders in the AI ecosystem, such as Nvidia and Intel, and has published joint research with DeepMind. 

US$100mn Series B funding round

Last year InstaDeep announced it had raised US$100mn and closed a Series B round led by Alpha Intelligence Capital together with CDIB. Investors in the round include BioNTech, Chimera Abu Dhabi, Deutsche Bahn’s DB Digital Ventures, Google, G42 and Synergie. 

In 2020 InstaDeep and BioNTech formed a multi-year strategic collaboration to launch a joint AI innovation lab to deploy the latest advances in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to develop novel immunotherapies.

As part of this collaboration, the two companies created an AI-powered Early Warning System (EWS) for detecting high-risk SARS-CoV-2 variants. The EWS identified more than 90% of World Health Organisation-designated variants on average two months ahead of time. It detected Omicron on the day its sequence became available among more than 70,000 novel variants discovered in October and November 2021.

A culture of deep tech innovation

“Since the inception of BioNTech, we have focused on leveraging computational solutions to create personalised immunotherapies that can reach a wide patient population,” said Prof. Ugur Sahin, M.D., CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech. “The acquisition of InstaDeep allows us to incorporate the rapidly evolving AI capabilities of the digital world into our technologies, research, drug discovery, manufacturing, and deployment processes. Our aim is to make BioNTech a technology company where AI is seamlessly integrated into all aspects of our work.”

“AI is progressing exponentially and our mission at InstaDeep has always been to make sure it benefits everyone. We are very excited to join forces and become one team with BioNTech, with whom we share the same culture of deep tech innovation and focus on positive human impact,” said Karim Beguir, CEO and Co-Founder of InstaDeep. “Together, we envision building a world leader that combines biopharmaceutical research and AI with the aim to design next-generation immunotherapies that enhance medical care – thus, helping fight cancer and other diseases.”

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