UK-based AI-driven pharmatech Exscientia has closed $100m in a Series C investment round, joined by funds managed by BlackRock.

The company’s existing investors including Novo Holdings, Evotec, Bristol Myers Squibb, and GT Healthcare Capital also participated in the funding round.

Exscientia intends to leverage the new capital to support the development of its autonomous drug design platform.

Also, the company intends to expand its portfolio into clinical trials, along with existing capabilities in biological analytics that support target selection and portfolio development.

In relation to the financing, BlackRock innovation capital head William Abecassis will be appointed as an observer in the Exscientia board of directors.

Abecassis said: “Exscientia is breaking ground in small molecule drug design, with a platform that radically improves drug discovery.

“We are thrilled to be investing in this world-class team, who are already delivering results with AI-designed drugs now entering clinical trials.”

Exscientia developed AI-first drug discovery platform CentaurAI

Exscientia said that through its AI-first drug discovery platform, CentaurAI, it has created novel drugs and has overcome limitations linked with conventional drug discovery.

Leveraging the platform’s capabilities, the company has created the first fully AI-designed drug to enter clinical trials and advancing multiple drug candidates into preclinical testing.

Also, the firm has entered into drug discovery partnerships with Bristol-Myers Squibb, Sanofi, Bayer and Dainippon Sumitomo along with several other biotech companies.

Exscientia claimed that it has doubled its size in the past year and aims to double its current size again in 2021, including recent US expansion into Miami and Boston.

Exscientia CEO Andrew Hopkins said: “We are delighted that BlackRock shares our vision for revolutionising how drugs are discovered.

“It is also recognition of the ingenuity and hard work of our employees to turn the promise of AI into reality today, where we are bringing the world’s first AI designed drugs into the clinic.

“BlackRock’s investment is an important step in our vision that all drugs will be designed by AI. I believe that our company’s reimagined approach to drug discovery will become the new de facto standard.”