Mainz-based vaccine pioneer takes over British start-up Instadeep

Biontech founder Ugur Sahin

The aim is to make Biontech a technology company in which AI is seamlessly integrated into the work.

(Photo: imago images/photothek)

Frankfurt With the largest acquisition in the company’s history, Biontech wants to expand its commitment in the field of artificial intelligence. For 362 million pounds (equivalent to around 410 million euros) in cash, the Mainz-based vaccine pioneer is taking over its British cooperation partner Instadeep. In addition, Biontech has promised the previous owners of the British start-up further performance-related payments of up to £200 million.

The aim of the acquisition is to create a leading global platform for the AI-based development of new vaccines and immunotherapies. Biontech wants to use this platform company-wide and in various research fields for the search for innovative therapies.

“The acquisition of Instadeep allows us to integrate the rapidly growing capabilities in the field of artificial intelligence into our technologies, research and development projects,” commented Biontech boss and founder Ugur Sahin on the acquisition. The aim is to make Biontech a technology company in which AI is seamlessly integrated into all aspects of work.

Biontech already has a stake in Instadeep

Biontech and Instadeep have been working together for around three years. Among other things, the German company, together with the British start-up, developed an early detection system for identifying dangerous Sars-CoV-2 variants.

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As part of a financing round, Biontech had already acquired a smaller stake in Instadeep at the beginning of last year. Founded in 2014, the start-up sees itself as one of the world’s leading providers of AI-based decision-making systems. The company with 240 employees has already developed solutions for the computer-aided design of proteins, but also systems for the electronics industry, such as automated processes for circuit board design.

Instadeep remains British as a Biontech subsidiary. The German company wants to expand its activities in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning around the acquisition. Parallel to the Biontech projects, the British start-up will continue to serve existing customers.

Artificial intelligence and computer-aided analysis systems have long been important tools for Biontech, especially in the development of individual cancer vaccines based on mRNA.

For these drugs, it is necessary to use the genome analysis of tumor cells to identify specific molecular targets for each patient against which immune cells are to be activated with the help of the vaccines. But AI systems are also playing an increasingly important role in many other areas of pharmaceutical research, such as the analysis and construction of proteins.

More: Rougher times after the vaccine boom: the pharmaceutical industry warns of competition

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