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24 November, 2022 - 22:33 By Tony Quested

Cambridge the gateway as Canadian antibody AI player moves into UK

Canadian startup BenchSci, which specialises in AI-assisted antibody selection, has moved into the UK by taking space in Cambridge.

The company has taken 3,169 sq ft at Bateman House on Hills Road. The building is now fully occupied with train operating company Govia Thameslink securing Suite B on the second floor which totals 2,521 sq ft. Each firm has agreed to a five-year lease. 

A global leader in machine learning applications for novel medicine development, Toronto-headquartered BenchSci was recently ranked 31st on the Deloitte Technology Fast 50™ and 192nd on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ rankings of North America’s fastest-growing technology, media, telecoms, life science, FinTech and energy tech companies. 

BenchSci’s revenue increased by 802 per cent from 2018 to 2021. Its proprietary machine learning technology helps scientists run more successful experiments, accelerating the speed and quality of life-saving biomedical research for over 50,000 scientists at 16 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies. The technology is used by more than 4,500 research centres globally

BenchSci founder, Tom Leung, along with machine learning and data experts at the University of Toronto – David Q. Chen, Elvis Wianda and Liran Belenzon – came up with a  solution using advances in deep learning to teach a computer how to read and think like a PhD biologist.

BenchSci launched in July 2017 with its first application, AI-Assisted Antibody Selection. It helped scientists select the appropriate antibodies faster, reducing experimental failure. 

Initially, they collected relevant open- and closed-access scientific papers and product catalogs.Then they extracted relevant data points from them with proprietary machine learning models. 

They then built relationships between the data points and proprietary bioinformatics ontologies. Finally, they made the results searchable in an intuitive interface.

Within two years, more than 3,600 research institutions and 15 of the top 20 pharma companies used the solution and more than 31,000 scientists began relying on BenchSci for their experiments. 

Based on this response and the impact of its work, the company earned the trust of investors – including Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI fund.

Today, BenchSci is looking to build on its success with antibodies to address other critical reagents—including recombinant proteins, siRNAs, and CRISPR tools – as well as model systems such as animal models and cell lines. 
BenchSci is also developing other machine learning-powered applications to reduce preclinical research waste.

BenchSci was advised by Colliers and Govia Thameslink was unrepresented.

Savills Cambridge represented building owner Trinity Hall and William Clarke, director in the Savills business space team locally, said: “Bateman House provides good quality office accommodation located within moments of Cambridge railway station. 

A BenchSci spokesperson told Business Weekly: “The Cambridge office will be able to hold up to 50 people – and more for events – but we are a remote-first organisation that is actively hiring across the UK in addition to the Cambridge area.”

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