Drug Discovery General Technology

Boehringer Ingelheim to join forces with Google in Quantum Computing

January 13, 2021

Boehringer Ingelheim is one the first pharmaceutical company around the world to join forces with Google in quantum computing, and it announced on January 11 that it will work with Google Quantum AI to conduct research on ways to implement quantum computing in pharmaceutical research and development. There will be a focus on molecular dynamics simulations.

This new partnership will see Google’s quantum expertise combined with Boehringer Ingelheim’s knowledge in computer-assisted drug design and silico modeling. It is slated to last for three years.

‘We are really excited about joining forces with Google, the leading tech company when it comes to quantum computing. Quantum computing has the potential to significantly accelerate and enhance R&D processes in our industry. Quantum computing is still very much an emerging technology. However, we are convinced that this technology could help us to provide even more humans and animals with innovative and groundbreaking medicines in the future.’

Michael Schmelmer, Member of the Board of Managing Directors of Boehringer Ingelheim with responsibility for Finance and Corporate Functions

Boehringer Ingelheim’s strategy for digital transformation is what led to the collaboration. The goal is to better develop medical breakthroughs and bring them to patients that need them. Not only is the company investing in quantum computing, but it has also been funding other areas such as AI, machine learning, and data science. This helps the company understand diseases, their drivers and biomarkers, and digital therapeutics better.

With the help of quantum computing, the next pharmaceutical breakthrough might be close

‘Extremely accurate modelling of molecular systems is widely anticipated as among the most natural and potentially transformative applications of quantum computing. Therefore, Google is excited to partner with Boehringer Ingelheim to explore use cases and methods for quantum simulations of chemistry. Boehringer Ingelheim brings both an impressive quantum computing team and deep expertise in real world applications of these capabilities in the pharmaceuticals space.’

Ryan Babbush, Head of Quantum Algorithms at Google

The use of computers to develop new medicines is not new, but it is an important part of modern drug design and development. It has been helpful to both humans and animals. However, classical computers cannot solve the complicated problems that drugs have, due to their algorithmic structure. Simulating and analysing molecules would take a classical system far too long. Quantum computing does possess the capabilities to solve these problems particularly when it comes to molecules larger than what is possible. This can create new opportunities for innovation and therapies for many diseases out there.

‘Researching and developing new, groundbreaking therapies for diseases with high unmet medical need is what our work at Boehringer Ingelheim is all about. Together with Google, our goal is to apply the use of quantum computing in biopharmaceutical R&D and thus continue to make a decisive contribution to medical progress for patients around the world.’

Michel Pairet, Member of the Board of Managing Directors of Boehringer Ingelheim with responsibility for the company’s Innovation Unit

‘The thought leadership of Boehringer Ingelheim’s quantum research effort is very impressive. This is reflected in the quick turnaround time that their strong quantum research team got assembled, and their commitment to open research. We are looking forward to jointly working on the field with fundamental research and a joint vision for solving relevant pharma problems in the beyond-classical regime over the next decade.’

Markus Hoffmann, Google Quantum AI Partnerships

Boehringer Ingelheim will be continually investing in quantum computing in the future. There is already a Quantum Lab that the company owns, staffed by hired experts in the field. They range from academia to industry to quantum providers. Partnerships from Industry and Academia will assist the respective teams. The company’s Innovation Unit and IT will support the experts when they work.

About Boehringer Ingelheim

Boehringer Ingelheim is a pharmaceutical company dedicated to making new and effective medicines for humans and animals. It was founded in 1885, owned by the founding family ever since. In 2019, the company achieved net sales of €19 billion. It believes that working with experts in their fields is the best way to innovate.

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