Although the term term “techbio” has gained prominence in recent year, the use of technologies such as AI, automation and genomics in the biotech sector has attracted considerable attention from startups and investors for much longer. This is evident when noting the founding dates of notable companies in the space: Ginkgo Bioworks’ origins trace back to 2008. Exscientia and AbCellera were established in 2012, and BenevolentAI and Recursion in 2013.
To assess the state of the techBio landscape, we rounded up a number of companies in the space, gathered funding amounts and reviewed recent market trends. A deep analysis of the techbio landscape can prove difficult as the term itself can be nebulous, encompassing a range of intersections between technology and biology. While the potential of techbio is considerable, a number of companies in the sector have faced hurdles. Public companies, in particular, have struggled to maintain investor confidence in a volatile market. Over the past 12 months, several prominent techbios firms have witnessed significant stock price declines coupled with workforce reductions:
- BenevolentAI’s stock plummeted roughly 80% on the AMS Exchange. Earlier this year, the company said it would lay off about half of its workforce.
- Exscientia dropped more than 30% over the past year.
- Recursion saw its stock decline 8%.
- AbCellera, an antibody discovery and development company, has seen its stock skid 49% over the past year. In June, however, the company said it was moving ahead with its development plan for its Vancouver headquarters. The new campus will create some 400 jobs.
- Ginkgo Bioworks, a developer of biological engineering products and services, saw its stock plunge 39% over the past year.
Expanding the timeframe to 24 months, BenevolentAI experienced an even steeper decline of approximately 89% (see picture above). Exscientia and Ginkgo Bioworks also saw large drops, with their stocks falling around 70% and 79% respectively. AbCellera wasn’t spared either, with a decline of about 62%.
Increasing interest in AI in pharma could bode well for the techbio sector, especially in light of the often painstakingly slow and expensive traditional drug development process. For instance, Recursion Pharmaceuticals recently made headlines after processing some 36 billion chemical compounds for drug-target interaction in a mere week thanks to AI-driven methods. To put that in perspective, that task would have taken a 100,000 years by the company’s math. A number of companies, including Insilico Medicine, Exscientia and AbCellera, now have AI-generated molecules in the clinic.
Snapshot of the techbio Landscape
Below is a detailed of 25 techbio companies of varying sizes gleaned primarily from Crunchbase. The sortable table provides details on their focus, funding and total number of acquisitions.
|Company Name||Description||Location||Number of Employees||Number of Acquisitions||Funding Round||Total Funding Amount|
|Ginkgo Bioworks||Public developer of biological engineering products and custom microbes across multiple markets.||Boston, Massachusetts||501-1000||10||Series B||$800,400,000|
|AbCellera||Public company specializes in antibody discovery and development.||Vancouver, Canada||501-1000||4||Series B||$887,000,000|
|Tempus||Private technology company focused on driving precision medicine through AI in healthcare.||Chicago, Illinois||1001-5000||3||Series G||$1,300,000,000|
|Seismic Therapeutic||Private Seismic Therapeutic is a biotechnology company focused on machine learning for immunology drug development.||Watertown, Massachusetts, United States||11-50||0||Series A||$101,000,000|
|C2i Genomics||Private C2i Genomics provides cloud-based cancer diagnostic services to pharmaceutical and diagnostic organizations.||New York, New York, United States||11-50||0||Series B||$112,000,000|
|Bit.bio||Private Bit.bio specializes in the fields of coding and biology that determine the identity of human cells.||Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom||101-250||0||Series B||$145,000,000|
|BenchSci||Private company uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to accelerate biomedical discoveries.||Toronto, Ontario, Canada||251-500||0||Series D||$164,200,000|
|Atomwise||Private Atomwise develops AI systems using deep learning algorithms and supercomputers for drug discovery.||San Francisco, California, United States||101-250||0||Grant||$176,600,000|
|Deep Genomics||Private Deep Genomics is using AI to build genetic therapies.||Toronto, Ontario, Canada||101-250||0||Series C||$236,700,000|
|Opentrons||Private Opentrons is a life science company that develops pipetting robot technology designed to automate experiments.||Brooklyn, New York, United States||251-500||1||Series C||$240,000,000|
|PathAI||Private company develops technology that assists pathologists in making accurate diagnoses.||Boston, Massachusetts, United States||101-250||1||Series C||$255,200,000|
|BenevolentAI||Public company specializes in clinical-stage AI-enabled drug discovery.||London, England, United Kingdom||251-500||0||Private Equity||$292,000,000|
|Owkin||Private Owkin is an AI-focused precision medicine company.||New York, New York, United States||251-500||0||Series B||$304,100,000|
|Exscientia||Public Exscientia is a pharmatech company that uses an end-to-end AI platform to design and discover new drugs.||Oxford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom||101-250||2||Grant||$374,400,000|
|Insilico Medicine||Private company has an AI-based pipeline of drugs.||Hong Kong||101-250||0||Series D||$401,300,000|
|Benchling||This private cloud-based software platform company coutns biology researchers and R&D organizations as customers.||San Francisco, California||501-1000||1||Series F||$411,900,000|
|Metagenomi||Private Metagenomi uses metagenomics and machine learning to discover novel genome editing systems for therapeutics development.||Emeryville, California, United States||101-250||0||Series B||$457,000,000|
|Synthego||Private Synthego is a genome engineering company enabling access to CRISPR for life science R&D.||Redwood City, California, United States||251-500||0||Series E||$459,700,000|
|Inscripta||Private Inscripta is developing digital genome engineering solutions.||Pleasanton, California, United States||101-250||3||Series E||$463,900,000|
|Schrödinger||Public Schrödinger develops molecular design software for pharma/biotech and materials research, and is advancing a drug discovery pipeline.||New York, New York, United States||501-1000||1||Grant||$567,200,000|
|Recursion Pharmaceuticals||Recursion is a public biotech developing a drug discovery platform with machine learning.||Salt Lake City, Utah, United States||251-500||3||Post-IPO Equity||$665,400,000|
|Insitro||Private Insitro is a drug discovery and development startup using machine learning and biology.||South San Francisco, California, United States||101-250||1||Series C||$743,000,000|
|Emerald Cloud Lab||Private Emerald Cloud Lab is building technology platforms for cloud-based R&D collaboration.||South San Francisco, California, United States||101-250||0||Series C||$92,100,000|
|CHARM Therapeutics||CHARM Therapeutics uses deep learning on 3D molecular configurations to develop molecule therapeutics to target pathogenic proteins.||London, United Kingdon||1-10||0||Series A||$82,700,000|
|BigHat Biosciences||Private BigHat Biosciences is a protein therapeutics company that develops an antibody design platform guided by artificial intelligence.||San Mateo, California, United States||11-50||1||Series B||$993,000,000|
Filed Under: Drug Delivery, Industry 4.0, machine learning and AI