Startup Profile: Benevolent AI

  • BenevolentAI is a drug development startup founded by Kev Mulvany in 2013.
  • The company has since raised $292 million in funding. 
  • BenevolentAI is using Its artificial intelligence platform to search for a Coronavirus cure.



About Benevolent AI


BenevolentAI is a London-based drug development company using artificial intelligence to help find new medicines for a number of serious diseases, including Parkinson’s disease. Benevolent AI was founded in November 2013 by Ken Mulvany and was initially known as Stratified Medical Ltd. Mulvany is known as a serial entrepreneur, investor and healthcare and technology veteran with more than 20 years of business leadership experience. Previously, he was CEO of Proximagen, a UK-based biotech company committed to delivering novel drugs and innovative new treatments for central nervous system disorders. Since its establishment, the unicorn startup has seen $292 million raised in funding.



How Does it Work?


The company’s Benevolent Platform is an experimental drug discovery platform that uses AI capabilities for scientific innovation. The Benevolent Platform ingests and analyses biomedical information and combines it with AI deep learning to create a bioscience knowledge graph. Scientists can then use the automated platform to hypothesise and validate new ways to treat disease and personalise drugs for patients. The company says that “the underlying cause of disease in individual groups of patients is often not fully understood. A single disease may be caused by multiple underlying mechanisms in different patients… Our goal is to use our AI platform to identify drug targets that control these mechanisms, and make drugs to correct them”.



Benevolent AI
The Benevolent Platform uses AI capabilities to help scientists find cures and personalise drugs.




Curing Coronavirus


At the very start of the outbreak, BenevolentAI was quick to use its platform to predict a range of medicines with the potential to treat Coronavirus. The proprietary platform analysed the masses of medical data to identify drugs already in use for other purposes. CEO Joanna Shields stated: “Epidemics require fast responses and machines excel in rapidly developing circumstances. Given the growing number of cases of infection and the immediate need for a therapy, we focused our research on approved drugs that had already passed rigorous safety testing and could be given to patients immediately.” BenevolentAI found 47 compounds approved for medical use; however, many included severe side effects. One such drug was baricitinib, a drug currently approved for rheumatoid arthritis, which could reduce the ability of the virus to infect lung cells. 

BenevolentAI is one of more than 100 businesses to have signed a Wellcome Trust pledge. The pledge calls on researchers, journals and funders to share all findings and data relevant to Coronavirus in the hopes of speeding up the process of finding a cure.