Start-up Inceptive receives $100 million in investment from Nvidia

  • Ex-Google AI researcher Jakob Uszkoreit founded Inceptive to discover new vaccines and drugs
  • $100 million was raised by Nvidia and venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz
  • The startup intends to create "biological software" that helps design mRNA vaccines

Inceptive, a Palo Alto-based start-up founded by former Google AI researcher Jakob Uszkoreit, has raised $100 million in funding from industry leaders Nvidia and Andreessen Horowitz. 

The investment arrives as the demand for generative AI technologies expands into the pharmaceutical domain.

Uszkoreit, known for pioneering the technologies that formed generative AI models like ChatGPT, plans to utilize the funds to develop new types of vaccines and drugs. 

The start-up focuses on creating “biological software,” a concept founder Uszkoreit compares to using executable code to build and analyze cellular components. 

According to sources heard by the Financial Times, this latest funding round more than triples Inceptive’s previous valuation of $100 million. 

The start-up, founded two years ago, had raised $20 million in seed funding in 2021.

Advancements in mRNA

Inceptive’s proprietary AI software platform allows for the design of unique mRNA molecules, which were used in Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccines. 

After laboratory testing, these molecules are licensed to pharmaceutical companies for clinical trials. 

“We want to provide this as a horizontal capability to any entity developing mRNA and later RNA medicines,” said Uszkoreit.

“There are currently about 310 programs in flight, somewhere between pre-clinical and clinical trials.”

The start-up joins a burgeoning list of companies, including Exscientia, Verge Genomics, and Recursion Pharmaceuticals, aiming to leverage AI for drug development.

AI’s ability to work with complex at data at scale perfectly suits the drug discovery portion of pharmaceutical science.

Inceptive’s approach to harnessing AI technology for biotech applications underscores a broader market trend, as a Morgan Stanley report cites a $50 billion market opportunity for AI in the pharmaceutical industry.

In addition to the investment, Inceptive will also gain access to some of Nvidia’s most advanced computing platforms, thanks to the involvement of NVentures, Nvidia’s venture capital arm.

AI-powered drug discovery has accelerated this year, with studies locating new anti-aging drugs and antibiotics.

One AI-discovered drug has been submitted for human clinical trials already.

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