Insitro, which uses machine learning to speed drug discovery, raises $400 million led by Canadian investors


Insitro, a US-based machine learning startup, announced an additional $400 million in funding led by the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board. Other investors included SoftBank, Temasek, Coatue, A16z, and more.

The startup uses AI and machine learning to speed up the process of drug discovery for major diseases. This additional investment brings the total funding for the startup to a whopping $650 million.

Let’s dig deeper into the funding round.

Insitro, Which Uses Machine Learning To Speed-Up Drug Discovery, Raises $400M, Led By Canada Pension Plan; Other Investors Include SoftBank, Temasek, A16z, More (Hannah Kuchler/Financial Times)

Insitro is a startup biotechnology company based in San Francisco, California that leverages advanced machine learning algorithms to speed up the process of drug development. Founded in 2018, Insitro’s mission is to reduce the time and cost of discovering innovative medicines. Their proprietary platform, INSPIRE (Insitro Statistic Platform In Research and Engineering), applies AI-assisted drug development to make data-driven decisions throughout the drug discovery process.

The company recently announced it had raised $400 million in fresh funding led by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and other investors such as SoftBank, Temasek and Andreessen Horowitz. This brings its total funding to $550 million, making it one of Canada’s largest private investments amid the pandemic-induced economic crisis.

The funds will be used to further develop Insitro’s technology platform, including its data architecture; expand its research capabilities into new therapeutic areas; and enhance product collaborations with major pharmaceutical companies aimed at accelerating new treatments for diseases with high unmet medical need such as cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, rare genetic diseases and fibrosis. In addition, they plan on expanding their workforce worldwide by recruiting top talent globally to support their drug discovery effort.


Insitro, an artificial intelligence-powered biotechnology company, has recently raised $400 million in investment. The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board led the investment round, and other investors include Softbank, Temasek, A16z, and more.

This remarkable funding has been seen as a promising turn of events as the company aims to use machine learning to speed up drug discovery.

Details of the investment

Insitro, an American biotechnology startup focusing on leveraging machine learning to increase the speed of drug discovery, has announced it has secured $400 million funding led by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP) and managed through pension funds in the CPP Group. Founded in 2018, Insitro is developing a platform that uses AI and machine learning to tackle complex problems related to drug design.

In addition to CPP’s investment, the round was joined by existing investors SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Temasek and existing backers Andreessen Horowitz (A16Z), Thrive Capital and Foresite Capital. In addition, according to a report by The Financial Times who first reported the news, some new investors such as GlaxoSmithKline’s venture arm also participated in the round.

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The $400 million injection marks a significant step forward for Insitro in its mission to “accelerate treatments for patients in need faster than ever before” while providing pharma partners with more successful outcomes earlier in clinical development and commercialization. In addition, with this latest funding of over $700 million raised since launch, Insitro looks toward expanding its presence amongst biotech research hubs beyond its current home base of Incline Village in Nevada.

Canadian investors involved

Canadian investors have led the $400 million financing round of Insitro, a San Francisco-based machine learning startup dedicated to accelerating drug discovery and development. The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Investment Board and Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) participated in the financing round alongside several other established investors such as SoftBank Investment Advisory and Temasek Holdings’ Vertex Growth Fund. Other venture capital firms that joined this financing round include Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Dementia Discovery Fund, GV, Section 32 and Sanofi Ventures.

The CPPIB had previously committed $110 million last July to leverage Insitro’s deep learning capabilities for exploring biological datasets. A newer addition to this funding is the OMERS Growth Equity fund led by Omni Bridgeway, which has invested in the most recent financing round of Insitro. The cash from this funding will be used towards further developing machine learning-driven approaches for improving early drug discovery and clinical development stages, including predicting toxicity profiles for drugs pre-clinically.

Other investors involved

The $400 million funding for Insitro, which uses machine-learning to quicken the drug-discovery process, also included investors from SoftBank, Temasek and Andreesen Horowitz.

The CPP Investment Board (CPPIB) led the investment round with other additional investors like Viking Global Investors, Lilly Asia Ventures and others with undisclosed amounts. It is estimated that the total amount raised by Insitro has now surpassed $550 million.

This investment reflects a growing interest by international financial institutions in companies that use machine learning to develop faster and more efficient drugs. SoftBank’s Chief Operating Officer Marcelo Claure commented on this development: “We are proud to invest in Insitro as they leverage advanced algorithms and data sciences technologies to accelerate the development of revolutionary medicines”.

Furthermore, Temasek has also become part of this venture as they have a history of making diverse investments either directly or through its portfolio companies into infrastructure, renewable energy and healthcare technology companies. Speaking about the importance of the investment CEO Pavithra Valli said: “This strategic transaction aligns with our commitment towards supporting disruptive technologies that have potential of addressing fundamental challenges”.

Andreesen Horowitz’s General Partner David Ulevitch said about investing in Insitro “At Andreessen Horowitz we back entrepreneurs who want to set new standards for how technology can improve life sciences programs globally”. He echoed his sentiment on using technology for drug-discovery processes: “Insitro embodies the kind of cutting edge thinking at work across the life sciences industry today.” Other venture capitalists such as Greenoaks Capital Management LLC and Abingworth LLP were also part of this transaction.


Insitro’s fundraising of $400 million led by Canada Pension Plan and other investors like SoftBank, Temasek, and A16z is a milestone that will bring much needed capital to drug discovery.

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This infusion of capital will enable Insitro to scale its machine learning strategy to speed-up drug discovery, which has long been a challenge in the pharmaceutical industry.

How the investment will benefit Insitro

Insitro, the startup using machine learning to speed up drug discovery and development, has raised $400 million in a new round of funding. The strategic investors include Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Temasek and Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). This substantial investment will significantly benefit the company shortly.

The funding will continue Insitro’s mission of using advanced analytics, computer vision and automated robotic systems to provide insights into disease mechanisms, enabling them to design drugs more effectively and efficiently. Insitro has previously worked on projects with Merck and Gilead Sciences Inc and several academic institutions including Stanford University. With this new influx of financing, Insitro’s research capabilities are expected to increase significantly.

The company also plans to work with other pharmaceutical companies and institutions to further advance drug discovery by applying data science techniques trained on genomic datasets. Additionally, the investment can help scale up its team by hiring more expert personnel in machine learning, AI-related fields, software engineering and data analysis functions; this could make it more competitive than ever against rival firms already heavily established in the field.

In addition to allowing Insitro opportunities for growth through continued research into drug design innovation, this hefty injection of capital will also give them greater influence over the pharmaceutical industry. By providing these technologies at commercial speed their customers can reduce product development costs while improving their allotted return on investment from successful candidate drugs sooner rather than later – something traditional approaches have struggled with in recent years.

All in all, this strategic investment will prove invaluable for Insitro if they use it well; we certainly look forward to updating you further when we hear of any interesting developments at their end!

Impact on drug discovery

The new funding for Insitro, a machine learning-focused company using artificial intelligence (AI) to speed up the drug discovery process, signals a groundbreaking shift in the pharmaceutical industry. With this $400 million infusion of capital led by Canada Pension Plan and other investors such as SoftBank and Temasek, Insitro puts machine learning at the forefront of drug discovery.

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Taking a prospective drug from concept to market can take 12-15 years and cost billions of dollars before it reaches patients. By utilising AI and machine learning tools, Insitro seeks to revolutionise this process by accelerating preclinical research into working therapeutics. In addition, their methodologies will be used to analyse hundreds of thousands of data points about a potential drug discovery – from its chemistry through to how it might behave in the body – with more accuracy than traditional methods.

This investment may also represent an opportunity for Canadian companies to strengthen their standing in the pharmaceutical industry. By supporting firms like Insitro, Canada’s economy can become more focused on innovation in healthcare technology and increase its global competitiveness. In addition, it likely signals other Silicon Valley-style venture capital investments towards tech startups addressing pressing global challenges such as drug development shortly.