Former Google AI expert raises $100mn for biotech start-up

Inceptive’s Jakob Uszkoreit, a pioneer of the technology behind ChatGPT, attracts Nvidia funding to design ‘biological software’.

A biotech start-up founded by a former Google artificial intelligence expert has raised $100mn from Silicon Valley heavyweights Nvidia and Andreessen Horowitz as the market for generative AI applications expands into pharmaceuticals.

Palo Alto-based Inceptive plans to use the funds to develop new types of vaccines and drugs. It is designing “biological software” using the latest AI technology that was pioneered by the company’s founder Jakob Uszkoreit, who co-authored a paper that kick-started generative AI advances such as ChatGPT.

Software programs code executable instructions on a computer, he said. “We want to do that but with cells in your body.”
Inceptive is one of a new generation of start-ups which have collectively raised billions of dollars to apply AI to drug development. It is part of a race by Big Pharma and investors to capitalise on a $50bn market opportunity for AI in the sector, according to a Morgan Stanley report.

The four-year-old start-up was last valued at $100mn in 2021 after it raised seed funding of $20mn. The latest round, which includes new investors such as Obvious Ventures, more than triples Inceptive’s valuation, according to a source close to the deal.

The company has built an AI software platform that designs entirely unique molecules made of mRNA, the biological unit that Pfizer and BioNTech used to make their Covid-19 vaccines. Once Inceptive tests these in its labs, it licenses the molecules out to pharmaceutical companies to assemble and put through clinical trials.

Inceptive said it was working with a large European pharmaceutical company, which is experimenting with the start-up’s molecules to develop a new infectious disease vaccine. The success of mRNA against Covid-19 has yet to be replicated in other vaccines…


Biological Software





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