QUB spin-out Amply Discovery raises £900,000 to find new drugs

21 Sep 2022

From left: QUB’s Anne Dornan, Clarendon Fund Managers' Stuart Gaffikin, Amply Discovery co-founders Dermot Tierney and Ben Thomas, QUB’s Prof Chris Creevey, Amply Discovery’s Peter Alexander and Jurnorain Gani, and QUB’s Prof Sharon Huws. Image: Andrew Towe/Parkway Photography

The biotech start-up is using AI and machine learning techniques to discover new drugs, with its flagship programme tackling bovine mastitis.

Belfast biotech start-up Amply Discovery has raised £900,000 in a mix of equity and grant funding to help tackle infectious diseases.

The spin-out from Queen’s University Belfast is working to develop new drug products using its AI-driven drug discovery platform.

Its initial flagship programme is developing an anti-infective product to tackle bovine mastitis, which can impact the dairy industry with reduced yield and poor milk quality.

Amply Discovery received grant funding from Innovate UK for this programme. The biotech also raised equity funding from Co-Fund NI, which is managed by Clarendon Fund Managers and supported by Invest NI and the British Business Bank.

Equity investment also came from the QUBIS Innovation Fund, the Helix Way Partnership and members of the Halo Business Angel Network.

“This latest funding milestone is a significant achievement for Amply Discovery and will allow us to target significant commercial opportunities for new anti-infective products, starting with bovine mastitis,” Amply CCO and co-founder Dermot Tierney said.

Founded last year, Amply Discovery aims to solve the global challenges created by antimicrobial resistance, which threatens to make humanity’s current portfolio of antibiotics ineffective against various diseases.

The team is using AI and machine learning techniques to discover new anti-infective products. The technology platform being used by Amply comes from more than eight years of scientific research at Queen’s.

Amply co-founder and CEO Dr Ben Thomas said the research began when he considered adopting the AI and machine learning techniques he worked with “in financial markets for the computational biology domain”.

“It is exciting to be able to advance the commercial development of Amply Discovery thanks to the tremendous support of our investors and Queen’s University Belfast,” Thomas added.

QUBIS entrepreneurial networks manager Anne Dornan said Amply Discovery is a “fantastic example” of the support the university can offer researchers through its investment arm. “The Amply team have moved through our entire gambit of support,” she added.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic