Ten years ago at the University of Dundee, Andrew Hopkins spun out a software company with a few core algorithms to potentially engage big pharma and help in their drug discovery process. Last year, Exscientia (the name means “from knowledge”) went public and has since notched some impressive billion-dollar deals with big pharma.
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In a wide-ranging conversation, Hopkins discusses his journey from South Wales to the University of Oxford, Pfizer to the University of Dundee, and the progress made by his Oxford-based company, which he launched in 2012. Hopkins is in no doubt that artificial intelligence is poised to transform not only the chemistry of drug discovery but also many other aspects of clinical and pharmaceutical research.
Headquartered in Oxford, Exscientia has claimed a number of firsts, including being the first company to have AI designed molecules entering clinical trials. After its initial public offering (IPO) in 2021, Exscientia’s total funding has surpassed $1 billion, with billions more promised if its pharma partnerships with the likes of Sanofi meet their goals.