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BioMap, the Life Science Layout of Baidu

BioMap is under construction

Recently, Baidu Ventures has completed the adjustment of its management staff. Gao Xue, the former managing director of the strategic investment department in Xiaomi, joined Baidu Ventures as CEO. Liu Wei, the former head of Baidu Ventures, turned to be responsible for the preparation of the new company “BioMap“.

BioMap is a life science platform company established in September this year. Robin Li, the founder, chairman, and CEO of Baidu is sure to take the lead.

The research and development cycle of life science is often very long, which requires not only great financial and technical strength but also the determination of long-term investment.

Since the first half of this year, COVID-19 has raged all over the world. AI technology has greatly helped medical workers fight the epidemic and aroused the interest of the capital market in the life science market.

baidu brain
Baidu Brain

It was early reported that Baidu would set up an independent biological computing company to fully enter the fast-growing precision life science market. Today, this rumor has finally made progress.

On September 25, a life science platform company called BioMap was established quietly.

From the front page of the company’s official website, Robin Li, the founder, chairman and CEO of Baidu, is a leader. And Liu Wei, CEO of Baidu Ventures will be CEO of the new company. The AI layout of Baidu has once again expanded into new areas.

BioMap: Driving the development of life science with biological computing technology

Relying on Baidu, the title of BaioMap is very dazzling—China’s first life science platform company which is driven by biocomputing technology. “Bai” not only represents “Baidu”, but also represents “human centenary health dream”.

It is reported that the company is committed to using high-performance biological computing and multi-group data technology to accelerate the research and development of innovative drugs and precision life science products such as early screening and early diagnosis so that more diseases can be early-warning, controllable, and curable.

In terms of business, BioMap will be divided into two stages:

The first stage: using cutting-edge AI technology to build a complete biological computing platform, through self-development and industrial investment, build a biocomputing ecology together with start-up enterprises and research institutions with new data axis and new data analysis and drug design tools, providing rich tool capabilities and complete solutions for life science enterprises and scientific research users, and making good services.

The second stage: deeply participate in or lead the research and development of new precision drugs and precision diagnostic products, and work with partners to contribute innovative precision life science products to society.

In addition, based on the biological computing platform, BioMap will vigorously invest in the research and development of key data underlying equipment and computing technology and accelerate the research and development of high-throughput organ chips, high-resolution material observation equipment, new omics acquisition and analysis equipment, and special chips for protein simulation and biological computing.

BioMap is supported by Baidu AI

BioMap will establish deep strategic cooperation with Baidu’s underlying deep learning algorithm platform PaddlePaddle, which will provide BioMap with world-class AI underlying technology and development tools. At the same time, they will continue to launch new algorithms and tools based on the requirements of BioMap and its customers.

In the business model, BioMap will innovate the traditional profit model of life science companies.

In recent years, the popular trend is the VIC model, that is, the new drug research and development model of “VC (venture capital) + IP (intellectual property) + CRO (R & D outsourcing service)”. Many innovative pharmaceutical companies introduce products from outside and entrust CRO companies to carry out regional or global development at the same time. However, on the basis of this model, BioMap creatively put forward the “VIP” model, using the capital (Venture) + to participate in the construction of IP + biological computing and intelligent experimental platform (Platform), to accelerate the IP generation and transformation of drugs and diagnostic pipelines, which may become the core value and profit source of BioMap biological computing platform.

BioMap is Baidu’s long-term layout in the field of life science

Baidu Chairman’s interest in life science

Robin Li, as the chairman and CEO of Baidu, began to have a great interest in life science as early as 20 years ago. He has always believed that the improvement of computing power and the decline in the cost of gene sequencing will bring new possibilities for technology to help life science research. At one event, he mentioned that he had applied for a job related to bioinformatics research when he worked on Wall Street.

In 2016, Robin Li and many celebrities jointly established the “Future Science Prize”, which was known as the “China Nobel prize”. Robin Li personally participated in donating the “Life Science Prize” to commend scientists who have made great contributions in the biomedical field.

Robin Li’s interest in life science has also promoted Baidu’s layout in this field.

Enter keywords on the official website of Baidu AI Cloud, users can search the scene application introduction page of “Life Science”, and they can also apply for cloud computing services through the web page.

Baidu’s algorithm will work

After COVID-19 breaking out this year, Baidu immediately launched the world’s fastest RNA structure prediction algorithm, LinearFold, which can shorten the genome-wide secondary structure prediction of a novel coronavirus from 55 minutes to 27 seconds, 120 times faster.

Within three months, Baidu Research Institute launched the world’s first mRNA vaccine gene sequence design algorithm LinearDesign, which can complete the sequence design of novel coronavirus mRNA vaccine in 11 minutes, greatly improving the stability of vaccine design and the level of protein expression.

In April, Baidu led the establishment of the “China CDC Emergency Technology Center-Baidu Gene sequencing Workstation” with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention to carry out long-term strategic anti-epidemic support. In June, COVID-19 broke out in the newly developed area of Beijing. After receiving the samples, the CDC workstation completed the whole genome sequencing of the four samples in Beijing in only 10 hours, making a significant contribution to the prevention and control of the epidemic.

The predecessor of BioMap – the Biological Computing Laboratory of Baidu Research

In August this year, Baidu Research announced the establishment of a biological computing laboratory to further expand the scope of AI forward-looking research, deepen cooperation between academia and biopharmaceutical companies, jointly explore human life codes such as genes, DNA, RNA, and protein molecular structure, shorten the cycle of new drug research and development, reduce the cost of new drug research and development, improve the accuracy of drug and disease matching, and discover the relationship between genes and diseases, in order to achieve accurate medical care.

To some extent, the establishment of the Biological Computing Laboratory of Baidu Research is more like a prelude to BioMap.

Baidu’s capital layout of BioMap

In terms of capital layout, the BV-Baidu Ventures launched by Baidu also shows a long-term concern in the field of biological intelligence. Liu Wei, CEO of Baidu Ventures, will also serve as CEO of BioMap.

According to the data, during Liu Wei’s tenure as CEO of Baidu Ventures, he invested in more than 40 biocomputing-related companies, including AI drug design companies and emerging biological data axis companies in various segments, involving AI drug discovery, multi-group data, molecular imaging, and many other fields.

Baidu Ventures has invested more than half of the companies on the list in the “AI New Drug Discovery” section of MIT Tech Review’s ten breakthrough inventions.

“Accurate medical services and products based on biological computing are serious life sciences, which are characterized by a large amount of money and continuous patience, as well as unique technological drivers that can complement existing life, science giants.”

The long-term investment of BioMap and its team

Different from other fields, the research and development cycle of life science is often very long, which requires not only great financial and technical strength but also the determination of long-term investment.

At present, the start-up team of BioMap has more than a dozen life science doctors from Tsinghua University, Peking University, Oxford, Cambridge, Hong Kong University, UCLA, Stanford, and other universities, covering molecular biology, computational chemistry, genomics, and other technological directions, as well as a number of professionals with rich investment and business management experience in the field of biopharmaceutical and life sciences, who care enough to support the development of the company.

There has no biological computing platform company in China, and if BioMap can successfully develop new life science products in batches, it will be a business with huge space for imagination.

Jack Chan

Pre Editor in chief of FirmKnow News.

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