Flagship launches formal AI initiative in Pioneering Intelligence

Flagship Pioneering is staking its claim in the field of artificial intelligence, coalescing its efforts in AI and machine learning around the official launch of an internal initiative. 

Work first began on the Pioneering Intelligence project in 2021, with the goal of augmenting the drug development R&D being done across the venture capital firm’s stable of biotech startups and platform developers.

Now, Pioneering Intelligence will also work to kickstart new companies built on AI, standing alongside Flagship’s other initiatives—such as Pioneering Medicines, which aims to straddle more than 40 portfolio companies and hunt for strategic opportunities among their life sciences research.

“Pioneering Intelligence is an increasingly important initiative of Flagship charged with accelerating innovation across our enterprise,” Flagship Pioneering CEO Noubar Afeyan said in a statement

“By institutionalizing AI/ML knowledge across the ecosystem while leveraging best-in-class ML capabilities, Pioneering Intelligence not only brings value to our companies and origination teams but also positions Flagship as a leader and key source for expertise and information exchange in the AI/ML community,” Afeyan added.

According to Flagship, Pioneering Intelligence has already seeded one new AI-powered platform company but is keeping it in stealth mode for the time being. 

The initiative has also already built AI tools for other Flagship companies—such as programs to collate scientific literature on a large scale, as well as models to design novel molecules and explore cellular pathways, the firm said.

"With these newest AI tools, we can reimagine what it means to be an entrepreneur," said Flagship general partner Geoffrey von Maltzahn. "There are many limitations in human cognition and intelligence that don't apply to machines, and by using AI as a true co-pilot during our exploration process we can surpass these limits and more efficiently and effectively search for white space where new platforms can make the biggest impact."