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Monsanto invests in AI startup Atomwise's $45 million Series Aqrcode

Mar. 8, 2018

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Mar. 8, 2018

Atomwise, Inc.
United States  United States

Monsanto Company
United States  United States

Atomwise Inc. announced it has raised $45 million of growth funding, led by Monsanto Growth Ventures, DCVC (Data Collective), and B Capital Group, in support of its mission to become the preferred artificial intelligence partner for the world’s leading pharmaceutical, biotech, and agrochemical companies. Prior investors Y Combinator, Khosla Ventures, and DFJ also participated in this Series A financing, along with new investors Baidu Ventures, Tencent, and Dolby Family Ventures. The oversubscribed round brings Atomwise’s total capital raised to more than $51 million.
“With our initial work in 2012, Atomwise became the first startup to commercialize deep neural networks for drug discovery,” said Dr. Abraham Heifets, Co-founder and CEO of Atomwise. “It seemed to many like science fiction then, but now in 2018, Atomwise has the commercial traction with a host of customers to demonstrate our leadership in AI for drug discovery.”
Atomwise’s Series A marks the culmination of two years of unprecedented business growth. Atomwise has struck partnerships with four of the top-ten U.S. pharma companies, multiple biotech firms, and over forty major research universities. All told, Atomwise has over fifty distinct molecular discovery programs. The Atomwise approach demonstrates a new model for a pharmaceutical industry that is facing a crisis of declining productivity, spending more on research each year, yet achieving fewer breakthroughs per dollar.
“With our partners, Atomwise has brought the power of artificial intelligence to breakthrough research on deadly viruses, several forms of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, metabolic diseases, life-threatening bacteria, endemic parasites, and crop-blighting fungi in agriculture,” said Dr. Izhar Wallach, Co-Founder and CTO of Atomwise. “With this funding, Atomwise is ready to help hundreds of organizations discover compounds that could become tomorrow’s blockbusters.”
Like software used to design airplanes and computer chips in simulation, Atomwise can help make predictions about new potential medicines before they are made, reducing the need for costly and time-consuming physical synthesis and testing. Its groundbreaking AtomNet drug research technology learns like a human chemist, using powerful deep learning algorithms and elastic supercompute platforms to analyze millions of potential medicines each day.
“DCVC led Atomwise’s seed and has continued to double down on this great team because they have combined breakthrough AI-driven productivity with disciplined execution and delivery for some of the world’s most demanding life science companies,” said Matt Ocko, Managing Partner of DCVC. “We’re excited that traditional life sciences is only the start for Atomwise, with the company demonstrating transformational results in attacking problems in agriculture and other global industries as well.”
Atomwise has delivered significant research results since its seed funding in 2015. Dozens of its discovery programs have achieved success in the hands of its partners, contrasting with an industry that typically has extremely high rates of failure for comparable work. AtomNet has dramatically outperformed status quo technologies, identifying “active” hit compounds at a rate up to 10,000X higher than the physical high-throughput screening methods it augments. Today, Atomwise screens more than 10 million compounds every day.
“We chose to invest based on the impressive results we saw from Atomwise in our own hands,” added Dr. Kiersten Stead, Partner at Monsanto Growth Ventures. “Atomwise was able to find promising compounds against crop protection targets that are important areas of focus for agrochemical R&D.”
Aside from a massive increase in discovery productivity, AtomNet also provides greater understanding of the toxicity, side effects, mechanism of action, and efficacy of a drug, far earlier than typical in a drug pipeline. This ability provides Atomwise customers an exponential reduction in the cost and risk of drug discovery. In that context, Atomwise’s choice of strategic investors with deep industry ties is critical for achieving its vision of transforming the way medicines are discovered.
“The one-trillion dollar global pharmaceutical industry is rapidly shifting toward AI-driven R&D productivity and Atomwise is clearly leading this charge,” said Gavin Teo, Partner at B Capital Group. “B Capital, built in partnership with the Boston Consulting Group, is excited to support Atomwise to expand and deepen relationships with biopharma corporates seeking transformative technology to grow their R&D pipeline.”
“We thank long-time investors DCVC, and welcome Monsanto Growth Ventures, and B Capital Group,” concluded Abraham Heifets. “Atomwise’s new board members Kiersten Stead, Matt Ocko, and Gavin Teo combine the very best of deep tech, life science, and corporate experience. We can’t wait to work with them.”


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