German vaccine maker BioNTech set to acquire British AI expert InstaDeep for £562M

German vaccine maker BioNTech

The German biotech industry is thriving, as per reports, the country’s biotech workforce crossed 50,000 in 2019, with 660 companies dedicated to biotechnology.

For its largest deal to date, German biotech company BioNTech is reportedly acquiring InstaDeep, a UK-based AI startup founded in Tunis.

BioNTech is said to pay £362 million upfront – a combination of cash and BioNTech shares. A company statement says that the remaining £200 million is dependent on the future performance of InstaDeep.

As per reports, the German vaccine maker plans to use InstaDeep’s machine learning to improve its drug discovery process, including developing personalized treatments.

InstaDeep, founded by Karim Beguir and Zohra Slim in 2014, raised $100 million in Series B financing led by Alpha Intelligence Capital and CDIB last January. As part of the financing round, BioNTech joined Chimera Abu Dhabi, Deutsche Bahn’s DB Digital Ventures, and Google.

The enterprise AI startup, founded in Tunis and London, has offices in Paris, Tunis, Lagos, Dubai, and Cape Town, and uses advanced machine learning techniques to enhance business applications. 

Meanwhile, BioNTech, founded by Christoph Huber and Ugur Sahin, is one of the largest privately held biopharmaceutical companies in Europe developing individualised cancer treatments. Under one roof, this German biotech startup combines all elements of immunotherapy, from diagnosis to drug development.

“Our aim is to make BioNTech a technology company where AI is seamlessly integrated into all aspects of our work,” Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin said in a statement.

In November 2020, BioNTech and London-based InstaDeep signed a multi-year collaboration agreement that featured a joint-innovation lab. A system that alerts users when new Covid variants come up was developed by the companies. 

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