AI R&D Drug Startup XtalPi raises $318M

XtalPi, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) drug discovery and development technology company, announced today an oversubscribed Series C funding round of $318.8 million co-led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2i, PICC Capital, and Morningside. The new round of financing is joined by over a dozen global investment companies in banking and technology, with additional investments from existing investors Tencent, Sequoia China, China Life, and SIG.

The funds from this latest round will help XtalPi expand the reach of its AI and cloud computing-powered platform and the development of a new digital twin simulation system for modelling the effects of new potential drugs, to help facilitate the process of picking candidates for clinical studies. By integrating the predictions provided through its virtual R&D platform, XtalPi’s digital-twin drug R&D system will provide a sustainable advantage that can pair promising drug candidates with targeted experiments in less time. 

XtalPi, existing R&D platform, Intelligent Digital Drug Discovery and Development (ID4), uses a combination of AI, quantum physics algorithms and cloud computing to predict the structure of drug molecules once they are crystallised to better understand a drug’s stability and predictively model outcomes.

In its expansion, the company said it plans to take a “three-pronged approach” in further curating ID4’s capabilities, by simultaneously developing its algorithms, drug-like molecule database and computing power. Currently, ID4 is able to develop over 100 predictive algorithms to model the interactions between molecules and proteins at the atomic level.

In developing its digital-twin drug R&D system, XtalPi will continue to match real-world R&D data with increasingly powerful virtual simulations at scale to extend its existing success to serve a larger number of biotech partners, therapeutic areas, and drug discovery projects.

“We believe AI holds the answer to solving pharma’s productivity challenge. More specifically, XtalPi’s AI-powered platform can improve the industry’s research efficiency and success rate in order to lower costs for discovering and developing new drugs. We look forward to applying our platform to help clients bring more first-in-class and breakthrough drugs to the market and address significant unmet medical needs to benefit patients on a global scale.” said Dr Shuhao Wen, chairman and co-founder at XtalPi.

Founded in 2014 by a group of three Chinese quantum physicists at MIT, the company now has 60 staff across offices in Cambridge (Massachusetts), Beijing and Shenzhen. 

The startup previously raised a $5 million Series A round by Tencent in late 2015, prior to that, social network Renren led its seed investment. Series B funding, which furthered the scope of the company’s computing platform saw backing from investors Google, Tencent and Sequoia.