Inceptive, a California-based AI startup, has successfully raised $100 million in a funding round aimed at propelling the development of its “biological software” platform. The platform is designed to facilitate the creation of novel medicines and biotechnologies. Founded by former Google AI researcher Jakob Uszkoreit, the company aims to use artificial intelligence to develop mRNA-based medications. Leading investors in the tech industry, including Andreessen Horowitz, Nvidia, and Obvious Ventures, backed the funding round. The latest financial boost brings the total investment in Inceptive to $120 million, following a seed funding round of $20 million last year.
The Vision Behind “Biological Software”
Inceptive defines “biological software” as synthetic molecules that execute complex functions in biological systems based on specified programming. The startup plans to enhance the capabilities of its platform, hoping to extend its services to any entity that develops mRNA and, later on, RNA medicines. In an interview with Financial Times, Uszkoreit elaborated that there are currently about “310 programs in flight, somewhere between pre-clinical and clinical trials.”
A Competitive Landscape in AI-Driven Biotech
The startup is part of a new wave of companies leveraging AI for drug development, seeking to tap into a market that a Morgan Stanley report suggests could be worth $50 billion. Inceptive, last valued at $100 million in 2021, has more than tripled its valuation with this new round of funding, according to sources close to the deal. The company is working on designing unique mRNA molecules, which could potentially revolutionize areas of medicine like vaccine development.
A Strategic Partnership with Nvidia
NVentures, the venture capital arm of Nvidia, is among the new investors in this funding round. In addition to financial backing, the investment from NVentures also grants Inceptive access to Nvidia’s state-of-the-art computing platforms, including its latest chip technology. This is expected to significantly bolster Inceptive’s R&D capabilities.
The Road Ahead
The company is already in collaboration with a large European pharmaceutical firm to develop a new vaccine for infectious diseases using Inceptive’s proprietary molecules. As mRNA technology gains further traction in the medical field, Uszkoreit expects that “conservative estimates indicate more than 700 mRNA drugs will be in development by the end of the decade.”
Investment Boom in Biotech AI
While the promise of AI in biotech has been the subject of much discussion, Inceptive’s successful funding round marks a significant milestone in the quest to apply machine learning in meaningful ways across the healthcare sector. However, it’s important to note that a significant chunk of time and cost in drug development remains in clinical trials. How Inceptive’s AI-driven technologies will navigate these challenges remains to be seen.