Tencent-backed US drug discovery firm Atomwise closes $123m Series B round

Atomwise, which uses artificial intelligence for structure-based small molecule drug discovery, has raised $123 million in an oversubscribed Series B round, according to a company statement on Tuesday. The San Francisco-based firm said it will use the proceeds to scale and build its own pipeline of experimental drugs.

The Series B round was led by global venture capital firm B Capital Group and Sanabil Investments, a commercial investment company owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund. Atomwise has appointed Raj Ganguly, co-founder and managing partner at B Capital Group as a new board member, and Hani Enaya, head of VC at Sanabil, as a board observer.

The deal was also backed by returning investors including Tencent, and Baidu Ventures, a VC launched by Chinese search engine giant Baidu. San Francisco-based venture capital firm DCVC (Data Collective), American startup accelerator Y Combinator, early-stage VC Dolby Family Ventures, and AME Cloud Ventures, led by Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang, as well as new investors from two global insurance companies, participated in the round.

The latest investment brings the total capital raised by Atomwise to almost $175 million. Founded in 2012, the company undertakes hundreds of projects per year in partnership with some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical and agrochemical companies, as well as over 200 universities and hospitals across 40 countries.

The company has also built AtomNet, an AI-powered drug discovery platform that contains more than 16 billion molecules for virtual screening.

“Over the past three years, our platform AtomNet has tackled, and succeeded, in finding small molecule hits for more undruggable targets than any other AI drug discovery platform,” said Abraham Heifets, CEO and co-founder of Atomwise, in the statement.

“With support from our new and existing investment partners, we will be able to leverage this to develop our own pipeline of small molecule drug programmes, further grow our portfolio of joint-venture investments, and realise our vision to create better medicines that can improve the lives of billions of people,” said Heifets.

Atomwise’s AI technology has been used by academic researchers at global institutes and drug developers, including pharmaceutical and biotech companies. The company taps a rapidly growing market estimated to reach $729 billion in global market value by 2025, according to the Global Market Insights.

To date, Atomwise has provided AI technology to over 750 research collaborations addressing over 600 disease targets.

“New technologies are enabling better and faster R&D for the life science industry,” said B Capital’s Ganguly in the same statement. “The advancements Atomwise has made with its computational drug discovery platform have effectively cut months or even years off from the R&D lifecycle.”

Ganguly added: “More importantly, they are solving biology problems previously believed to be unsolvable by researchers and delivering that capability to everyone from academics to big pharma.”

Atomwise will continue to scale its AI technology platform and team after the new transactions. The company plans to expand its work with corporate partners, which currently include major players in the biopharma space such as Eli Lilly and Company, Bayer, Hansoh Pharmaceuticals, and Bridge Biotherapeutics, as well as emerging biotech companies including StemoniX and SEngine Precision Medicine.

The company claimed to have so far signed over $5.5 billion in total deal value with corporate partners.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.