A new collaboration between Bayer and UK-based Exscientia is set to accelerate the discovery of small molecule drugs, focused on cardiovascular disease and oncology.

The companies have announced that they will use artificial intelligence (AI) to further the development of drug candidates for three of Bayer’s projects in the areas of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and oncology.

Under the terms of the deal, Exscientia will begin by working on three projects with targets agreed between both parties, with eligibility to receive up to £203 million, including “upfront and research payments, near term and clinical milestones.”

Bayer said that it is “driving forward digital transformation in R&D as we believe that digital technologies such as AI can simplify and speed up the discovery and development of new drugs for patients” according to Dr. Joerg Moeller, member of the executive committee of Bayer AG's Pharmaceuticals Division.

He continued, “The collaboration with Exscientia is expected to help us to achieve project milestones earlier and at the same time accelerate timelines by enabling more precise identification of suitable drug targets and lead structures.”

As part of the collaboration, Exscientia will apply its Centaur Chemist AI drug discovery platform, including its “evolutionary computing” and deep learning algorithms in order to discover and optimise the novel drug candidates.