BenevolentAI’s new CEO Dr Joerg Moeller has reported the company’s 2023 results.

The London-headquartered MedTech company, registered in Luxembourg and listed on the Euronext market in Amsterdam since April 2022, is a former darling of the UK AI scene. However it endured a turbulent 2023 which saw it announce plans to lay off 180 staff in May as its CFO resigned.

It said that the planned cost savings of £45 million – £13m via the streamlining of facilities and other operating expenses, and £32m from a reduced drug programme and staff costs – would extend its cash runway to at least July 2025

Baroness Joanna Shields OBE (pictured) – a former government minister who had built the company up from a startup over five years as CEO – then resigned in September. She is now the founder of another AI startup, Precognition.

Dr François Nader, chair of the board, assumed the additional role of acting CEO until January, when the company appointed Dr Moeller – who has now hailed a strategic collaboration signed with pharma giant Merck KGaA. The company also appointed a new CFO and chief revenue officer last year.

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The agreement includes payments to BenevolentAI of up to $594 million to deliver novel drug candidates against, initially, three targets in oncology, neurology and immunology. In addition to a low double-digit million-dollar upfront payment, BenevolentAI could potentially receive payments on development and commercial milestones as well as tiered royalties on net sales.

Dr Moeller (below) revealed that for the 12 months ended 31st December 2023, revenue decreased to £7.3m (2022: £10.6m) – primarily reflecting decreased revenues from its collaboration with AstraZeneca, partly offset by the new Merck collaboration – while operating losses were £77.6m (2022: £197m).

Dr Joerg Moeller, BenevolentAI

The firm said that following its strategic review, cash burn has been reduced by around 40%, extending its cash runway to at least mid-2025.

“I am delighted to present my inaugural set of financial results as the CEO of BenevolentAI,” said Dr Moeller. “We have made significant operational progress despite a challenging first half of 2023. 

“Particularly noteworthy achievements include the signing of a significant collaboration with Merck, the completion of pre-clinical development of our glioblastoma multiforme asset, and also the initiation, and near completion, of a Phase Ia study of our lead asset in ulcerative colitis. 

“During the year, we also invested to further enhance the Benevolent Platform and will continue to leverage it to deliver on our patient-centric revenue generation strategy.

“Our mission is focused on bringing life-changing medicines to patients and during my brief tenure at BenevolentAI I have been inspired by our team’s talent and commitment to realise this. I look forward to working closely with them, and our partners, to make a lasting impact on the lives of patients worldwide.”

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