Recursion raises $239M in Series D funding to revolutionize and accelerate drug discovery using artificial intelligence
Recursion, a Salt Lake City-based biotech startup using artificial intelligence technology for drug discovery, today announced that it has raised $239 million in equity financing to advance technology-enabled drug discovery platform and pipeline. The oversubscribed financing, which brings the total funding for the 7-year-old startup to $465 million, was led by Leaps by Bayer, the impact investment arm of German drugmaker Bayer AG. Other backers include new investors and all of Recursion’s existing major institutional investors.
Back in 2019, Recursion raised $121 million as investors flock to the biotech sector hoping that the costly and cumbersome process of finding a drug will be transformed by techniques such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, and computer vision.
Alongside the Leaps by Bayer investment in the Series D financing, Recursion also announced a strategic collaboration agreement with Bayer to identify and develop novel treatments for fibrotic diseases of the lung, kidney, heart, and more. In this partnership, Recursion and Bayer may initiate more than ten fibrosis programs with possible development and commercial milestone payments of more than $100 million per program plus royalties on future sales.
Founded in 2013 by Chris Gibson, Blake Borgeson, and Dean Li, Recursion Pharmaceuticals combines experimental biology, automation, and artificial intelligence to discover treatments in a massively parallel system to quickly and efficiently identify treatments for any disease which can be modeled at the cellular level.
From its initial and continued focus on drug repurposing to treat rare diseases, Recursion Pharmaceuticals has broadened its platform to probe rich data from high-throughput automated screens for a number of indications, including aging, inflammation, infectious disease, and immunology. The startup is aggressively leveraging technology to build a robust and reliable map of human cellular biology, which will enable a radical shift in the pace and scale at which new treatments will benefit patients.
“We are ecstatic to have the opportunity to apply our ever-growing integrated discovery and development technologies to the hardest problems in biology, and this fundraising round provides us with additional resources we need to continue to advance on our mission to decode biology to radically improve lives,” said Chris Gibson, Ph.D., co-founder, and CEO of Recursion. “We have made significant progress since our last financing a year ago — doubling the number of clinical and preclinical programs in our pipeline, doubling the size of our proprietary database of cellular images, and significantly expanding the capabilities of our deep-learning algorithms, as well as continuing to integrate new technologies at every step of the discovery process to create the first truly digitally-powered biotechnology company.”
Proceeds from the financing will support the clinical development of Recursion’s therapeutic pipeline which is the broadest and deepest pipeline to date of any company operating within the space of digitally-powered drug discovery. Additionally, Recursion will continue to invest in the development of its proprietary technology to enable improvements in many steps of the drug discovery process including the generation of massive relatable datasets sufficient for creating broad maps of human biology enabling target discovery, digital chemistry, predictive ADME/T and the digitization of in vivo studies. Through a focus on data relatability and machine learning approaches to analyze the petabytes of proprietary experimental data from Recursion’s platform, Recursion believes that it can double the number of clinical and preclinical programs in its pipeline each year and accelerate therapeutic discovery and development.
“Leaps by Bayer is investing in transformative technologies with the ability to move the paradigm from treatment to cure,” said Juergen Eckhardt, MD, Head of Leaps by Bayer. “With a pipeline of over 30 programs ranging from early discovery to clinical stage, including four clinical-stage assets, Recursion is defining and leading technology-enabled drug discovery and has the potential to help enable new curative treatments in a large spectrum of disease areas and discover therapeutic candidates for intractable diseases. We are honored to be joined in this financing by other healthcare and technology experts who share our belief that Recursion’s approach to technology-enabled drug discovery will bring life-changing medicines to patients quickly and in a cost-effective manner.”
Recursion will receive an upfront payment of $30 million in addition to the $50 million lead equity investment. The size and scope of this partnership represent the largest announced partnership within the space of technology-enabled drug discovery to date and is a model for how Recursion plans to form strategic partnerships in other therapeutic areas with complex biology including oncology, immuno-oncology, inflammation, neuroinflammation, aging, and infectious disease while advancing its internal programs focused primarily on genetic diseases.