AI Startup Company Denovium Acquired by Biopharmaceutical Business AbSci

By James White Friday, January 15, 2021

One of many challenges in the field of pharmaceutics is creating novel medicine to combat the ever-mutating viruses and bacteria that impact our lives. Whether it is the newest iteration of the flu vaccine or the creation of new antibiotics, the path to a safe, functioning pharmaceutical is often a long, arduous, and expensive process. AbSci’s recent acquisition of Denovium, a California-based artificial intelligence (AI) startup business, aims to reduce the time and effort required to discover new drugs and therapeutics.

Deep Learning AI Applied

Denovium’s business was founded recently in 2018, by entrepreneurs Toby Richardson, Ariel Schwartz, Imad Ajjawi, and Gregory Hannum. Together, these scientists have decades of experience in the fields of bioengineering, chemistry, and computer science. The AI built by the startup uses advanced pattern recognition algorithms to design protein chains from the ground up, an essential role in the development of modern medicine.

Ajjawi, CBO of Denovium, explains what makes the private startup company stand out in an interview with Endpoints News.

“The Denovium Engine has learned the fundamental properties of function,” Akkawi said, “which includes structure, but also a lot of other different properties as well, and a lot of different parameters.”

In a press release from the synthetic biology company, AbSci founder and CEO Sean McClain describes the acquisition as the “perfect synergy of groundbreaking synthetic biology and cutting-edge deep learning AI.”

Optimizing Discovery

Details of the acquisition are not publicly available; however, AbSci did shed some light on its plans for the AI startup company. Using Denovium Engine’s business offerings in tandem with its own technology, AbSci seeks to streamline the drug discovery and development process. Implementing AI technology will allow AbSci to pursue speedy in silico development, or development using computational technology. Furthermore, the AI will learn to become even more efficient and productive over time.

“Combining that design power with our proprietary data from our Protein Printing platform, AbSci can create a new gold standard for drug discovery and cell line development for next-generation biologics while at the same time allowing for creation of novel biologies previously unattainable,” McClain stated.

In the increasingly expensive pharmaceutical manufacturing field, refining production chains is essential to minimizing spending and maximizing revenue.

Business Looks Good for the Startup

The global pharmaceutical market saw $1.25 trillion in revenue while spending $186 billion on R&D in 2019. According to an EvaluatePharma report, R&D spending is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3% leading up to 2024.

Business is booming for top pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, with reported revenues reaching $51.8 billion and $82 billion respectively in 2019.

Through seven funding rounds, the privately-held, AbSci raised a total of $42.9 million, most recently bringing in $10.4 million from a Series D funding last year. JSR Life Sciences and KBI Biopharma were among the top investors.

The biotech company, based out of Vancouver, Washington, along with help from startup company Denovium, will continue to innovate key processes in their rapidly-expanding industry.

About the Author


Headshot of author James White

James White is a Michigan State University graduate with a B.S. in Environmental Biology. He is interested in reporting emerging trends in technology, especially with regard to alternative energy and environmental conservation.

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