Baidu, a Chinese tech giant is planning to create a biotech start-up that will be able to discover new drugs and also be able to diagnose certain diseases using AI technology. For the purpose of this start-up, Baidu is looking at raising $2 billion over 3 years from investors. However, most probably Baidu won’t be the controlling investor.
Ever since the pandemic happened in March due to COVID-19, the healthcare industry has become the primary place for investment for obvious reasons. Investors are investing huge sums of money into the industry, especially in the biotechnology segment. Companies are looking at developing programs for online diagnosis since the conditions of existing hospitals are underwhelming. There are too many patients and not enough space in hospitals.
Alibaba’s healthcare segment, WeDoctor which is backed by Tencent and Ping A Good Doctor, has jumped on the bandwagon of creating apps that can fasten the medical processes. These processes include appointment bookings, diagnosis, prescription, medical insurance, and 1-hour drug delivery services.
However, the start-up under consideration here will have a slightly different agenda from what has already been mentioned. Baidu wants to use AI technology that will make the process of discovering issues like spotting tumors, discover drugs, and perform complex computing to produce biological innovations.
Sources say that Robin Li, founder, and chairman of Baidu initiated the project 6 months ago and is personally overlooking its development. However, Baidu has not passed any comment on this fact yet.
LinearFold is an algorithm by Baidu for predicting RNA (Ribonucleic Acid). It is very important to predict the RNA secondary structure of a virus in order to understand it and develop its vaccine. LinearFold helps in fastening this process. This year, Baidu open-sourced access to this algorithm.
In the last 5 months, ever since the pandemic struck, the Hang Seng Healthcare Index has increased by around 40%.