Aqemia announced on October 19 that it had raised €30 million in a Series A financing round co-led by Eurazeo and Bpifrance via its Large Venture fund, with the participation of Elaia, its historical investor. The deeptech company, which specializes in the discovery of drug candidates, will be able to use this financing to develop its exclusive drug discovery platform and its portfolio of therapeutic assets, as well as to recruit.
Aqemia is a spin-off from ESN-PSL. Maximilien Levesque, its co-founder, after post-doctorates in statistical physics and fluid mechanics at ENS Paris and the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, worked as a CNRS researcher at ENS. He developed a statistical algorithm inspired by quantum mechanics that could have applications in drug discovery and focused the work of his group on drug design.
He joined forces with Emmanuelle Martiano, a strategy consulting engineer at the Boston Consulting Group who has worked for pharmaceutical and BtoB software companies, and the two of them created Aqemia in June 2019.
An innovative technology
The technology developed by the deep tech allows the discovery of candidate therapeutic molecules, without resorting to training data like other AI startups. Its quantum-inspired statistical mechanics algorithms, which power generative AI, quickly and accurately predict the affinity between a molecule and a target, and thus its potential efficacy on a disease.
Emmanuelle Martiano, co-founder and COO of Aqemia, explains:
“The unprecedented pace – 10,000 times faster while maintaining costs – and accuracy of our deep physics algorithms, coupled with our generative AI, create a unique combination that enables faster generation of innovative new drug candidates and tailoring of drug discovery projects as technology projects.”
Large pharmaceutical companies have been interested in Aqemia’s solution: Sanofi, provided financial support in late 2020 for research into an effective treatment for Covid-19. The two companies also announced last June a new collaboration aimed at the design and discovery of new molecules in several oncology projects. The start-up has also signed a partnership with the Servier Group in December 2021 in the field of immuno-oncology.
A new €30 million investment
Agemia had raised €1.6M in 2019 from Elaia, BPI and business angels, This new investment will enable it to optimize and accelerate large-scale early drug discovery projects to discover dozens of new proprietary drug candidates, with an initial focus on oncology and immuno-oncology.
These candidates will feed a diverse therapeutic pipeline across a variety of targets and indications that Aqemia intends to advance into clinical trials alone through a constellation of biotech spin-offs or with partners.
Maximilien Levesque comments:
“After repeated successes in highly efficient generation of novel chemical materials in collaboration with large pharmaceutical companies worldwide, we are now excited to leverage this fundraising to accelerate the realization of Aqemia’s mission: to build a massive pipeline of proprietary drug discovery projects.”
Aqemia, which now has a team of approximately 50 employees, will continue to recruit to meet its upcoming technology and drug discovery challenges.
Antoine Zins, Investment Director at Eurazeo, concludes:
“I firmly believe that Aqemia has unparalleled power to change the drug discovery paradigm. They have not only solved the paradox of missing data in the discovery process with deep physics and AI, but they can also generate leads at a faster rate than any discovery platform before them. We are very excited to be part of the journey alongside them.”