BioNTech SE BNTX.O has agreed to acquire the British artificial intelligence (AI) startup InstaDeep for up to 562 million pounds ($682 million) to speed up its biotech research beyond COVID shots.
Under the German vaccine maker’s largest takeover deal to date, BioNTech is to pay 362 million pounds upfront, in a mix of cash and an unspecified number of BioNTech shares, and up to 200 million pounds contingent on InstaDeep’s future performance, it said on Tuesday.
The transaction adds to a slew of deals as the industry meets in San Francisco for the annual JP Morgan healthcare conference this week.
With estimated COVID-19 vaccine revenues of up to 17 billion euros ($18.2 billion) in 2022 alone, BioNTech is well-funded to advance its work on new cancer immunotherapies and on other vaccines, and AI will play a growing role.
BioNTech was part of a group of investors who participated in a $100 million financing round at InstaDeep a year ago. It declined to say precisely how much it had invested then or what share of InstaDeep it held.
“Our aim is to make BioNTech a technology company where AI is seamlessly integrated into all aspects of our work,” said co-founder and chief executive Ugur Sahin.
BioNTech said it was already involved in dozens of joint projects with InstaDeep, including efforts unveiled last year to quickly determine whether a new coronavirus variant is a cause for concern.
InstaDeep, with about 240 staff, will continue to provide its AI and machine learning services to other companies, including Google GOOGL.O and NvidiaNVDA.O, the statement added.