BioNTech acknowledges importance of artificial intelligence and machine learning with acquisition of InstaDeep

By Liza Laws

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Artificial intelligence AI Data management machine learning Research Patient centricity

A company that ‘translates science into survival’ by developing new therapies has completed its acquisition of a technology company leading in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

Biopharmaceutical New Technologies (BioNTech) made the announcement of the completion of the deal with InstaDeep today (August 1) though the acquisition was announced earlier this year in January.

BioNTech said this follows a track record of increasing collaboration between our two companies since 2019 as well as our initial equity investment as part of InstaDeep’s series B financing round in January 2022.

This acquisition supports its strategy of aiming to build world-leading capabilities in AI-driven drug discovery and development of next-generation immunotherapies and vaccines. It also hopes to address diseases with high unmet medical need.

InstaDeep will operate as a UK-based global subsidiary of BioNTech. In addition to BioNTech-focused projects, InstaDeep will continue to provide its services to clients around the world in diverse industries, including in the technology, transport and logistics, industrial, and financial services sectors.

BioNTech's workforce

The transaction adds approximately 290 highly skilled professionals to BioNTech’s workforce, including teams in AI, ML, bioengineering, data science, and software development.

The total consideration to acquire the remaining InstaDeep shares, excluding the shares already owned by BioNTech, amounts to approximately €500 million in cash, BioNTech shares, and performance-based future milestone payments.

“Since the inception of BioNTech, we have focused on leveraging computational solutions to create personalized immunotherapies that can reach a wide patient population,” said Ugur Sahin, 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.”

Importance of AI and ML capabilities 

BioNTech said it recognized the growing importance of AI and ML capabilities early on.

The company gave the example of the fully individualized neoantigen specific immunotherapy approach (“iNeST1”) based on mRNA encoding multiple patient-specific neoepitopes. For the first patients treated with an individualized vaccine in clinical trials starting 2014, BioNTech selected the neoepitopes manually.

It invested early in developing ML-trained algorithms to improve the prediction of neoepitopes with initial results published in Nature in 2017. These algorithms have been further enhanced in collaboration with InstaDeep.

Karim Beguir, CEO, and co-founder of InstaDeep, said: “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.

“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.”

In December last year (2022), BioNTech announced it would collaborate with Ryvu Therapeutics​ to develop oncology programs, with the pair announcing they would work together as part of a multi-research target research collaboration.

BioNTech’s other notable successes include its work in mRNA vaccines​ through its partnership with Pfizer, the company also holds a broad portfolio of other types of treatment, including monoclonal antibodies, cell therapies, and small molecule immunomodulators.

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