AI drug hunter Exscientia plans to go public with Nasdaq IPO

After penning a major funding round earlier this year, the artificial intelligence-powered drug designer Exscientia is showing no signs of slowing down, with the announcement of plans to go public. 

The Oxford, U.K.-based developer confidentially filed for a $100 million Nasdaq IPO in late June, shortly after posting a $225 million series D that could include an additional $300 million in equity. The offering's exact pricing terms have not yet been disclosed, according to Renaissance Capital, and could climb higher.

Those proceeds will come alongside a recent $35 million equity investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which will support at least five small molecules aimed at COVID-19, influenza and other viruses that may spur the next global pandemic. Exscientia is set to provide matching funds for the effort.

The company’s pipeline is spearheaded by three AI-designed drug candidates that have begun phase 1 clinical trials, including one immuno-oncology agent for solid tumors in partnership with Evotec and two psychiatry-focused assets being co-developed with Sumitomo Dainippon.

RELATED: SoftBank leads funding that could net up to $525M for Exscientia's AI drug platform

Behind them are more than 25 active projects in cancer, inflammation and rare diseases, Exscientia said in its prospectus, including four potential drugs lined up for IND submissions with biopharma partners such as Bristol Myers Squibb and GT Aperion Therapeutics.

Using its AI programs to speed up design and discovery work, Exscientia claims it can cut the total amount of time needed by 70%—its most advanced programs have reportedly gone from target identification to candidate selection in less than 18 months, down from the industry average of four-and-a-half years.

That pitch attracted the attention of SoftBank this past April, with its Vision Fund 2 leading the company’s $225 million series D round. That fundraising also included the international conglomerate's commitment to an additional $300 million in equity funding, available for Exscientia to tap at its discretion.

RELATED: Bristol Myers' $1.2B discovery pact with Exscientia strikes gold as first drug candidate selected

Since then, Exscientia collected a $20 million payout in its $1.2 billion drug design partnership with BMS after landing on an immune-system modulating candidate while chasing a previously hard-to-hit target. BMS has in-licensed the drug and is set to take command of its clinical and commercial development.

This past summer also saw Exscientia spend some of its haul on the $60 million acquisition of Allcyte, an Austrian AI developer looking to predict how well cancer therapies perform in individual patients. Exscientia also inked a collaboration with EQRx to find low-cost options for cancer treatments.

Meanwhile, Exscientia’s contemporaries in AI-powered drug discovery have also seen their wallets swell: Recursion posted a $436 million IPO on the heels of a $239 million series D, while insitro and Insilico Medicine have collected $400 million and $255 million rounds, respectively.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected. Exscientia's partner is GT Aperion, not Aperion Biologics.