AION Labs, a leading artificial intelligence (AI) innovator, has announced an international call for applications in collaboration with BioMed X for its latest AI-powered startup. The Israeli company aims to attract top talent worldwide to develop an advanced AI platform capable of discovering new high-affinity small molecules, revolutionizing the field of drug discovery.
Formed in 2021 through a strategic alliance between AstraZeneca, Merck, Pfizer, Teva, Amazon, and the Israel Biotech Fund, AION Labs offers exceptional opportunities for the selected startup. The successful applicant will receive $1 million in pre-seed funding and gain access to state-of-the-art computational and wet labs, supported by cloud resources from Amazon Web Services. In addition, AION will provide legal and business guidance to support the company’s growth.
This call for applications marks the sixth round initiated by AION Labs. Previous rounds focused on different aspects of AI-led drug discovery, resulting in the successful launch of Omec.AI and DenovAI in 2022. Omec.AI specializes in identifying hidden safety liabilities and efficacy gaps in drug candidates, while DenovAI focuses on designing antibodies with robust binding capabilities. The founders of two other teams from previous rounds have also been selected, showcasing the success and potential of AION Labs’ initiatives.
AION Labs envisions the development of a cutting-edge platform capable of virtually screening a pre-defined library of small molecules and ranking them based on their potential binding affinity. Dr. Yair Benita, CTO of AION Labs, emphasizes that this platform will accelerate the traditionally time-consuming drug discovery process by leveraging AI algorithms. By working with incomplete data and overcoming limitations, AI has the potential to revolutionize drug discovery in therapeutic areas with unclear mechanisms or limited success using conventional methods.
The application of AI in drug development has already demonstrated remarkable progress, particularly in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic. Market analysis from GlobalData forecasts a significant increase in spending on AI in drug discovery, with an estimated value of $3.3 billion by 2025, triple the amount spent in 2019. The exponential growth in AI adoption aims to address the demand for open-source research, enhance the efficiency of drug discovery, and reduce the escalating costs associated with research and development (R&D).
Mati Gill, CEO of AION Labs, commends Israel’s thriving pharmaceutical landscape and robust tech industry, attributing these factors to the success of such groundbreaking initiatives. The country’s impressive healthtech data analytics sector, skilled workforce, renowned universities, medical centers, and strong government support make Israel an ideal hub for pioneering pharma startups.
By fostering innovation, collaboration, and technological advancements, AION Labs and BioMed X aim to propel the field of drug discovery into a new era, unlocking the potential for novel therapeutics and improved patient outcomes.