Four pharmaceutical multinationals – Pfizer, Merck, Teva and AstraZeneca – in collaboration with two leading companies in the hi-tech and biotech investment ecosystem – Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Israel Biotech Fund (IBF) have launched a joint initiative to harness the power of artificial intelligence (AI) in the development of therapeutics.

AION Labs, is a first-of-its-kind innovation lab spearheading the adoption of AI technologies and computational science – while leveraging the cloud – to solve therapeutic challenges. The consortium is the result of successful application for a government tender to establish an Innovation Lab in December 2020, after the Israel Innovation Authority identified life sciences as a vital area for growth potential and investment.

Mati Gill, formerly a senior executive at Teva Pharmaceuticals will be AION Labs CEO, while Dr. Yair Benita, the former head of computational biology at Compugen, and science operations at CytoReason, will come on as its CTO.

AION Labs will act as an accelerator, creating and investing in early-stage start-up teams focused on AI and computational biology in drug discovery and development. The startups will each be offered resources, expert advice and mentoring as they attempt to develop new technologies that provide solutions to some of the most acute and significant challenges in the pharmaceutical industry.

“The launch of AION Labs will provide an opportunity for the healthcare and life sciences industry to uncover new ways to reduce the time and cost for discovery, facilitate open collaboration and interoperability, and ultimately improve patients’ health outcomes. We look forward to supporting AION Labs startups with expertise and the breadth and depth of AWS’s secure, reliable, and scalable cloud services to help tackle some of the biggest R&D challenges in drug discovery and development,” said Dan Sheeran, Director of Healthcare and Life Sciences at Amazon Web Services.

There will be an emphasis on developing therapeutics that do not require testing on animals.

“We are excited to launch our new Innovation Lab for new drug and device discoveries,” said Mati Gill, CEO of AION Labs. “Our R&D needs-based approach, coupled with our outstanding alliance, is poised to transform the process of therapeutic discovery and development. With a strong talent pool, AI technology at our core and a significant commitment of the Israeli government, we hope to contribute to the health and well-being of humankind. I’m honored to lead such a meaningful initiative, and to work closely with our consortium members to solve many of the world’s critical health issues,” he added.

AION Labs also announced its strategic partnership with BioMed X, an independent German biomedical research institute based in Heidelberg, which is known for its biomedical innovations as a result of the collaboration between academic research and the pharmaceutical industry.

“In our view, Israel is currently the best place to jointly leverage the power of artificial intelligence for drug discovery and development together with leading global players in pharmaceuticals, tech and venture capital,” said Christian Tidona, Founder and Managing Director of BioMed X.