How Artificial Intelligence (AI) will Change Funding Opportunities for Biotech Entrepreneurs

On June 21st, 2018, LaunchBio San Diego organized an event entitled “How AI Will Change Funding Opportunities for Biotech Entrepreneurs”. Sponsors of the event were The City of San Diego, Procopio, Biolabs, and Hughes Marino.

The event started with a presentation by Dr. Khai Minh Pham, founder and CEO of ThinkingNode, about the overview of the current state of artificial intelligence (AI) in life sciences which was followed by a panel discussion about the impact of AI in venture capital (VC) investing, the reason behind the interest of big pharmaceutical companies in AI, and the competitive edge of biotechnology startups that integrate AI into their business model. The panel discussion was led by Margot Wohl, Ph.D candidate in neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego and KPBS podcast producer. The panellists consist of experts with experience in VC investing, biotechnology, entrepreneurship, and AI technology. The panellists were Dr. Khai Minh Pham; Casey Laris, Chief Technology Officer at Reveal Biosciences; Thomas Kluz, Head of Healthcare Investing at Qualcomm Ventures and General Partner of dRx Capital; Navid Alipour, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Analytics Ventures.

“The fundamental way that AI works today is to recognize and match data patterns to outcomes, very similar to the approach taken by a human expert,” said Casey Laris about the potential of AI in biotechnology. “AI is not a replacement for scientists, physicians, and radiologists but a tool that can accelerate and enhance their process. In pathology for example, AI can be used to accelerate a pathologist’s workflow by providing rapid and accurate cell counts or help to identify diseased regions in tissue. It’s a powerful technology that helps screen routine cases faster, leaving valuable time for pathologists to focus on more challenging patients.”

AI will be instrumental in solving the obstacles faced by life science companies when it is utilized in a focused manner. AI has tremendous potential in workflow automation and data associations but it can also be used in a broader manner once the technology is further optimized for a specific function. For instance, a software application that proactively collects and summarizes all papers in a field on an ongoing basis is an example of a clearly defined use of AI. On the other hand, the idea of a general algorithm to complement drug discovery is too broad to be meaningful at this time. In other words, AI applied in specific markets to solve identified problems will create big winners.

Audience participation at this event was strong with numerous questions to the panel.  Many questions focused on the fact that AI is a rapidly expanding area of interest for investors. Key factors that investors are seeking include access to large data lakes, experienced personnel to generate accurate AI models, and applications that solve real problems. There is a currently a shortage of AI talent with Google being recognized as the leading employer of AI experts.  This leaves a challenge for startups seeking AI expertise in terms of cost and availability. Several panel members predicted that the explosion in online courses for AI should help alleviate this talent shortage over the coming few years.

About Reveal Biosciences

Reveal Biosciences is a computational pathology company leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to enable pathologists to make diagnostic decisions faster, more accurately, and for less money. The company also supports drug development by combining traditional histopathology with AI to transform tissue biology into actionable data. Reveal’s portfolio includes in situ hybridization (ISH), immunohistochemistry (IHC), immunofluorescence (IF), histopathology, and whole slide imaging.

For more information about how Reveal Biosciences is applying AI to develop highly accurate and scalable pathology diagnostics, visit: https://bit.ly/2NCrjhK. Follow the Reveal Biosciences on LinkedIn, Twitter (@RevealBio), Instagram (@RevealBio), and Facebook.