BioNTech, the German biotech company that made a huge impact in 2020 by creating one of the most effective COVID-19 vaccines, has announced that it will acquire 100% of London-based Tunisian AI startup, InstaDeep, for a total sum of £582 million ($682 million).
The deal which includes an initial payment of £362 million in cash and BioNTech shares, followed by a further £200 million to be paid based on InstaDeep’s future performance, comes on the heels of BioNTech’s participation in InstaDeep’s Series A funding round in January, and a strong partnership history between both companies.
In November 2020, BioNTech and InstaDeep teamed up to establish a joint AI Innovation Lab, with the goal of using the latest AI and ML technology to develop new medicines for cancer and other infectious diseases. The companies have already developed several end-to-end AI-based applications, including an early warning system for detecting and monitoring high-risk variants of SARS-CoV-2.
Commenting on the acquisition, BioNTech CEO Uğur Sahin said, “The acquisition of InstaDeep allows us to incorporate the rapidly evolving AI capabilities of the digital world into our technologies, research, drug discovery, manufacturing, and deployment processes.”
Officially became an AI firm in 2015, InstaDeep has grown to become a 240-employee organization with offices in London, Tunis, Paris, Dubai, Lagos, and Cape Town. Its researchers have worked with industry leaders such as DeepMind, Google AI, and Nvidia.
InstaDeep CEO and co-founder Karim Beguir added, “We are very excited to join forces and become one team with BioNTech, with whom we share the same culture of deep tech innovation and focus on positive human impact. Together, we envision building a world leader that combines biopharmaceutical research and AI with the aim to design next-generation immunotherapies that enhance medical care—thus, helping fight cancer and other diseases.”
Prior to this transaction, InstaDeep had raised $107 million in funding, as well as an undisclosed amount from Plug and Play and angel investors. This acquisition, which is the largest of its kind in Africa, is expected to close in the first half of 2023, subject to regulatory approvals and closing conditions. Upon completion, InstaDeep will operate as a UK-based global subsidiary of BioNTech, while still serving its clients worldwide.