Alphabet spinout SandboxAQ buys Good Chemistry

quantum computing and AI
Vishnu Mohanan

Two years after spinning out of the Google parent Alphabet, quantum computing and artificial intelligence specialist SandboxAQ has bought one of its smaller rivals in a deal focused on drug discovery and material science.

The acquisition of Canadian computational chemistry firm Good Chemistry – the terms of which have not been disclosed – expands SandboxAQ’s presence in the pharma category and adds “new technologies, customers, and top talent,” according to the company.

Good Chemistry is itself a spinout of quantum computing company 1Qbit and has developed a platform that uses cloud-based quantum and machine learning tools to predict the properties of chemical compounds, allowing drugs to be designed and developed in silico in a fraction of the time it would take with conventional approaches.

Those tools include ‍QEMIST Cloud, a computational chemistry platform that taps into classical and quantum computing and allows users to run simulations without investing in new IT infrastructure or needing quantum computing expertise.

Another is Tangelo, an open-source software development kit for chemistry workflows that includes tools to process molecular data, solve complex chemistry problems, and express these problems as quantum programmes.

“AI-enabled simulation of matter is the next major technological evolution that will dramatically impact our world – from developing safer, more effective new drugs to designing new advanced materials that will transform entire industries,” commented Reema Khan, chief executive of Green Sands Equity, one of Good Chemistry’s investors.

Good Chemistry is led by chief executive Arman Zaribafiyan, who will join SandboxAQ as head of product for AI simulation platforms, along with a couple of dozen other workers, and already has a number of big clients including Dow Chemical. The deal is SandboxAQ’s second in the AI simulation sector, coming after it bought cybersecurity specialist Cryptosense in 2022.

“Good Chemistry’s software and existing partnerships will enable us to rapidly accelerate how we bring the benefits of advanced simulation and AI tools to more customers,” said Dr Nadia Carlsten, Vice President of Product at SandboxAQ.

“Combining our capabilities will give SandboxAQ an advanced and scalable computing platform for highly accurate chemical simulation on a scale that makes impactful use cases, such as new drug and material synthesis, possible.”

The merger comes at a time when the pharma industry is increasingly embracing digital technologies like AI and quantum computing in a bid to reduce the time and cost of developing new medicines.

It follows shortly after another Alphabet start-up, Isomorphic Labs, announced its first pharma partnerships with Eli Lilly and Novartis, collectively worth almost $3 billion and focused on the development of small-molecule drugs against multiple therapeutic targets.

Photo by Vishnu Mohanan on Unsplash