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Key Trends

The rapid development of the industry continues, following the trends mentioned in our previous reports. Now not only private investors are getting increasingly interested in AI for Drug Discovery companies, but the Biopharmaceutical companies are looking for long-term cooperation with AI startups on their own and are ready to invest in them. In Q3 2020, 400 active investors were identified. Companies, Corporations and R&D Centers demonstrated growing interest in the industry as well. 30 Pharma corporations applying AI for drug discovery and 40 Tech corporations applying advanced AI applications in healthcare are highlighted in this report which speaks to further growth of the market. Additionally, this report introduces 20 Contract Research Organizations demonstrating interest in AI for Drug Discovery worldwide.


Declining R&D efficiency of Biopharma Companies remains a major concern among all parties in the industry with a continuous decline recorded during the last 9 years. Costs of R&D per drug are growing exponentially, yet sales per asset are not showing the trend to increasing. Pharma companies need to consider new approaches in their R&D field, such as the development of AI algorithms for better data processing in order to discover new drugs, their components and improve already existing ones or implementation of biotech startups’ experience. This brings us to an issue which is of profound concern to everyone — a growing race for AI talent. 


The challenge of developing treatments to fight COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the research groups to use AI as a main tool for identifying new drugs of interest. Multiple drug candidate pipelines were developed using machine learning models. As AI demonstrates its ability to accelerate drug repurposing for COVID-19, the interest of investors in AI companies markedly increased.


Pharmaceutical and healthcare companies have developed a strong interest in applying AI in many different areas over the last several years. The demand for the ML/AI technologies, as well as for ML/AI talent, is growing in pharmaceutical and healthcare industries and driving the formation of a new interdisciplinary field — data-driven drug discovery/healthcare. The overall success of all the companies in the industry depends strongly on the presence of highly skilled interdisciplinary decision makers, able to streamline, organize and guide in this direction. For Big Pharma companies that are fighting to survive it will be extremely important to hire top AI specialists as well as prepare and support special training courses within academia field to meet this need in the nearby future. The USA and Great Britain remain home for the largest number of top experts. However, it should be noted that China has the potential to substantially alter these statistics in the coming years due to reverse migration of top AI experts from the USA. It will also be a challenge to poach AI experts from academia, where most of them work and where they are clearly comfortable. 

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