The contract could be worth as much as £33 million to Exscientia, in addition to research funding.

Edinburgh-based Frontier IP, which specialises in the commercialisation of intellectual property, and has a holding in Exscientia, saw its shares jump 11 per cent on the announcement.

The collaboration will see Exscientia combine its AI-enabled platform with GSK’s expertise in the field of drug discovery, to identify novel and selective small molecules for up to ten disease-related targets.

This deal follows a similar collaboration project with French pharma-giant Sanofi.

Exscientia’s technology uses artificial intelligence to analyse enormous amounts of data on drugs, using what it learns from this analysis to design millions of project-specific compounds which are pre-assessed for a number of criteria. Data is refined over a number of test-cycles, enabling the business to generate candidate drugs in a quarter of the time taken by traditional approaches.

Exscientia will receive research payments from GSK to undertake new discovery programmes with nominated targets, with the goal of delivering pre-clinical candidates. Should all ten projects advance, Exscientia will receive the full £33m.

Andrew Hopkins, the company’s chief executive: “The alliance provides further validation of our AI-driven platform and its potential to accelerate the discovery of novel, high-quality drug candidates.”

John Baldoni, senior vice president, platform science and technology at GSK, said: “We anticipate that Exscientia’s approach will accelerate the discovery of new molecules against high value GSK targets with speed and confidence.”

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