Robotics, artificial intelligence and the launch of the Rosalind Franklin Institute

Medicines Discovery Catapult

Today (6th June 2018) Business Secretary Greg Clark launched the Rosalind Franklin Institute and announced funding for a world first fully automated-hands free molecular drug discovery facility, our CEO Chris Molloy responds:

“The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in drug discovery is an incredibly exciting domain for science. Free from the constraints of prior experience or expectations we have the potential to unlock previously inaccessible information, dramatically evolve our understanding of complex diseases and accelerate the discovery of high-quality lead molecules. Saving time, resources, money and has the potential to significantly reduce the number of failed trials and disappointments.

The Rosalind Franklin Institute’s technology will enable hundreds of thousands of candidate molecules to be investigated at one time  and allow the direct observation of the interactions between drug candidates and target proteins.

A recent workshop led by Medicines Discovery Catapult and the Knowledge Transfer Network convened more than fifty experts in the field of AI. It highlighted not only the benefits associated with AI, but critically a number of challenges for SMEs in the practical implementation. These need to be addressed for this technology to be successful. Challenges include: access to funding, data, technology and expertise as well as integration of data and collaboration to avoid duplication of efforts.

Return on investment (ROI) and an SMEs internal capital for new projects, which is often limited, were identified as particular inhibitors. Providing the freedom to fail is a key value at the Medicines Discovery Catapult and it is vital that the UK also adopts this US-style culture to facilitate industry innovation and drive progress in the long term.

The role of the Medicines Discovery Catapult remains to provide unique scientific capabilities and act as a gateway for SMEs to specialist technology within the UK and to help transform new ideas into commercial products and services for the benefit of patients, the nation’s health and wealth.

We look forward to supporting and collaborating with the Rosalind Franklin Institute.”

Rosalind Franklin Institute press release