10:05 AM
Mar 08, 2018
 |  BC Innovations  |  Finance

Intelligent diligence

How Roche thinks about due diligence in AI

Roche is foraying into artificial intelligence through a suite of partnering and M&A deals that are causing it to reinvent its due diligence process. The pharma is aiming to separate fact from fiction, and accurately assess technologies that lie beyond its core expertise in drug development.

In the last two months, Roche has signed three deals with data and analytics or AI companies aimed at rapidly expanding its precision medicine capabilities.

The deals are part of the pharma’s inroads into digital health that build on its 2015 partnership with Foundation Medicine Inc., which accessed the genomics company’s cancer molecular profiling database.

On Feb. 16, Roche announced plans to acquire all outstanding shares of Flatiron Health Inc. The pharma already held a 13% stake after leading the company’s series C round, and is acquiring the remaining 87% for $1.9 billion. In January, Roche partnered with Syapse Inc. to use AI and machine learning tools to improve patient access to precision medicines, and with the GE Healthcare unit of General Electric Co. to develop and co-market an integrated digital diagnostic platform for critical care and oncology.

In addition, Roche partnered last June to use GNS Healthcare Inc.’s machine learning and stimulation platform to identify cancer therapies.

While the technologies have the potential to upend drug development, the learning curve goes beyond the science.

According to Roche’s Gregg Talbert, AI- and data-related deals require a different mindset because they involve evaluating technologies and companies that lie outside the biopharma ecosystem.

Talbert is global head of digital and personalized healthcare...

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