BenevolentAI, a London-based clinical-stage AI drug discovery company, has agreed to go public through a merger with blank-check company Odyssey Acquisition at a valuation of €1.5B. According to BenevolentAI, this combination represents the largest European SPAC merger to date and one of the largest Euronext Amsterdam biotech listings ever
With this deal, BenevolentAI will receive €300M in cash from Odyssey and €135M in the form of PIPE (Private Investment in Public Equity) from existing shareholder Temasek, strategic partner AstraZeneca, Ally Bridge Group and Invus, and other institutional investors.
The UK company will use the funding to accelerate its product development, scale-up its clinical pipeline, and continue investment in its technology platform.
The SPAC shareholders and Pipe investors will take a 23.5 per cent and 9.1 per cent stake in the company respectively.
Odyssey: What you need to know
Founded by brothers Michael and Yoel Zaoui, Odyssey is a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) incorporated in Luxembourg to complete a merger, share exchange, asset acquisition, and share purchase with a European business with principal activities in healthcare or TMT.
Michael Zaoui, Chairman of Odyssey, says, “We established Odyssey with the objective of supporting and bringing to the European capital markets promising European growth companies in the healthcare and/or technology sectors. BenevolentAI is positioned at the convergence of these two sectors, is a proven leader in the emerging area of AI-driven drug discovery, and is led by a very experienced management team. We are convinced BenevolentAI offers superior growth prospects in a sector which itself is at an inflection point. We see our combination with BenevolentAI as a compelling investment opportunity and are convinced that this transaction will create value for all our shareholders.”
BenevolentAI: What you need to know
Founded by Ken Mulvany, BenevolentAI is a clinical-stage AI drug discovery company that combines advanced AI and machine learning with science to discover and develop novel and more effective medicines.
The company’s AI platform powers an in-house pipeline of over 20 drug programmes, spanning from target discovery to clinical studies. This includes a novel target for treating ulcerative colitis and an atopic dermatitis programme in the clinic.
The company has helped identify Eli Lilly’s arthritis drug baricitinib, also known as Olumiant, as a COVID-19 treatment. It has been authorised for emergency use by the FDA. BenevolentAI has a research facility in Cambridge (UK) and a further office in New York.
Joanna Shields, Chief Executive Officer of BenevolentAI, says, “We have built BenevolentAI into a category-defining business by pioneering a revolutionary approach to drug discovery and development. Our AI platform empowers scientists to leverage biomedical and experimental data at scale to understand the underlying causes of disease and develop more effective medicines, faster. Every drug in our pipeline of 20+ programmes has been generated by the Benevolent Platform™ which has a proven track record of scientifically validated discoveries, both in-house and in partnership with leading pharmaceutical companies. The combination with Odyssey will allow us to scale our vision and ambition of uniting purposeful technology and cutting-edge science to discover life-changing medicines.”
Dr. François Nader, Chairman of BenevolentAI, says, “BenevolentAI stands out at the forefront of the emerging sector of AI-driven drug discovery, with its innovative R&D platform and focus on mechanism-based drug discovery. Through its impressive track record, BenevolentAI has demonstrated the value of its platform in facilitating new discoveries for challenging diseases that have defied conventional research efforts. BenevolentAI is a company with significant growth potential, and the combination with Odyssey will further accelerate the company’s ambitious plans to scale its platform and broaden its pipeline. Investments from existing shareholder Temasek, our strategic partner AstraZeneca and new shareholders Ally Bridge and Invus are a clear vote of confidence in BenevolentAI and its growth prospects.”