SoftBank Makes Big Biotech Bet On UK Startup Exscientia

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Once again, Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank has proven that it’s a fan of the biotech industry with a major investment in the sector, and the latest testament to its likeliness of the sector is Exscientia, a UK startup using AI to accelerate drug discovery that has just completed a $225 million Series D round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2.

SoftBank led Exscientia’s Series D round and was joined by a host of other big-name participants including BlackRock, Mubadala, Farallon Capital, and American pharmaceuticals giant Bristol-Myers Squibb. 

  • SoftBank didn’t just stop at leading Exscientia’s round but committed an additional $300 million in equity funding that could be drawn at the company’s discretion. This signals having a lot of confidence in the company.
  • Exscientia is part of a crop of companies that have emerged in recent years to put to use the rapid development and improvement of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies in the drug development industry. Like others in its cohort, it’s using AI to help design and develop drug candidates for pharmaceutical customers.
  • Exscientia claims to have over 20 active drug programs in its pipeline including two that have entered clinical trials. In that case, the new capital that the company has raised would come in handy in financing usually expensive drug development programs.
  • Exscientia is based in Oxford in England, a city that houses a high number of biotech companies in the UK. It also has offices in Miami (USA), Osaka (Japan), and Dundee (Scotland). 
  • With its new round, Exscientia has now raised a total of nearly $400 million of venture funding making its mark as one of the biggest-funded biotech startups in the UK. 
  • Earlier in this very month of April, SoftBank made another big biotech bet by leading a $1.2 billion convertible debt round for Invitae, a publicly-traded genetics testing company based in the US. Before then, it had made a series of other bets on the sector including two companies that are now publicly traded; Guardant Health and Zymergen.

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