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Company Spotlight: Exscientia

Published on 23 February 2023

This month, we spoke with pioneering pharmatech company Exscientia to learn more about how it’s re-imagining the drug discovery process using the latest AI technology and the construction of its exciting new robotics suite at Milton Park.


Founded in 2012 as a spin out from Dundee University, Exscientia’s founders set out to find faster and smarter ways to improve the drug discovery process and quality of medicines. Today, Exscientia is a renowned leader in the pharmatech space, using advanced artificial intelligence (AI) across the complex drug discovery process from test-tube to patient.

Initially, the company’s focus was on using AI to drive the chemistry required during drug discovery but it’s since expanded its use of AI to improve other parts of the value chain such as selecting which biology to focus on. This pioneering AI platform not only identifies the specific reagents needed to be combined for the development of novel drugs but also analyses real patient samples to determine which patients are most likely to benefit from various medicines before they’re administered.

What does Exscientia do?

Exscientia is revolutionising the drug discovery process by combining the latest AI techniques that are geared towards active learning with experimental innovation. Through this, it is the company’s mission to encode and automate drug discovery as much as possible to in turn help patients live better and healthier lives.

Drug development can take many years due to the high level of failure rates in the early stages that are experienced industry-wide, making it extremely time and cost intensive.

Within the iterative cycle of design, make, test, analyse, it is the ‘make’ stage of the drug development process that causes the greatest delays and requires the most amount of time by a human chemist. By automating this ‘make’ (or synthesis) stage, Exscientia – which already has one of the fastest timelines for getting a new discovery to clinical stage in the industry – can speed up this process.

The “Nobel Prize” for digital health

A large portion of Exscientia’s work focuses on oncology drug discovery for various types of cancer. In a recently published clinical trial, its precision oncology AI-driven platform, EXALT-1, showed strong potential to guide treatment selection and extend the lives of patients with haematological cancers such as lymphomas or leukaemia. The clinically proven success of this AI-driven patient-first approach was a landmark achievement and the first of its kind.

Further emphasising the scale of this accomplishment, Exscientia was awarded the Prix Galien for Best Digital Health Solution, described as the “Nobel Prize” of the health industry, for the patient tissue selection capability of the precision medicine platform.

Andrew Hopkins PhD, founder and CEO at Exscientia, said: “This award is a recognition of the enormous potential that AI holds to transform how our industry discovers and develops the right drug for the right patient. The day is coming when all medicines will be discovered and developed by harnessing the power of AI. At Exscientia, we are proud to be pioneering the way forward.”

Why Milton Park?

At Milton Park, Exscientia is in the process of building a truly cutting-edge robotics suite unlike no other currently in existence.

The premises Milton Park was able to offer Exscientia, in the form of a 20,151 sq ft self-contained, warehouse-style building, proved to be the ideal space for the company – providing a blank-slate for Exscientia to carry out its vision for the space.

Richard Law, Chief Business Development Officer at Exscientia, added: “Our new robotics suite at Milton Park, set for completion in 2023, marks the next step change in realising Exscientia’s mission to encode and automate drug discovery to develop better drugs more efficiently.

“We’re also excited that at Milton Park we’re able to work in such close proximity with other innovative life science companies. Many of them are also leaders in their field and we look forward to intensifying our relationships with them.”

To find out more about Exscientia and its work, please visit:

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