Oxford-based medtech company Exscientia has secured £49 million in a Series C funding round, which the drug discovery firm aims to use to accelerate its international expansion, including in the USA.

Exscientia uses artificial intelligence in small molecule drug discovery, announcing earlier in 2020 that the first ever precision-engineered drug designed with AI had gone to Phase 1 human clinical trials. The drug is a treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Along with its planned expansion, the company will look to use the cash injection to expand its portfolio and pipeline, while bolstering AI biology as part of its “full-stack capabilities”. The company is also working on a coronavirus treatment, announcing in March that it had entered a joint initiative with Calibr and Diamond Light Source to produce antiviral treatments for COVID-19.

The financing round was led by new investor Novo Holdings of Denmark, and was contributed to by existing investors including Evotec, Bristol Myers Squibb and GT Healthcare Capital. The financing round also sees Novo Growth senior partner and head Robert Ghenchev join the board of directors at Exscientia.

Exscientia CEO and founder Professor Andrew Hopkins commented: “This investment highlights the increasing commitment to the potential of AI to transform drug discovery and the excitement that we have garnered around the innovative work we are doing at Exscientia”.

“We have now demonstrated multiple times that our platform can accelerate the time between the start of an idea and a viable new drug candidate for patients in need of treatments, fast tracking the entire R&D process.”

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