Boehringer Ingelheim partners with Google on quantum computing


Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) is teaming up with Google on the use of quantum computing in pharmaceutical R&D.

BI said the agreement will combine its expertise in computer-aided drug design and in silico modelling with Google’s established capability as developers of quantum computers and algorithms.

It is the first pharmaceutical company to partner with Google in quantum computing. The three-year partnership is co-led by the newly established Quantum Lab of Boehringer Ingelheim.

“We are really excited about joining forces with Google, the leading tech company when it comes to quantum computing,” says Michael Schmelmer, member of the board of managing directors of Boehringer Ingelheim with responsibility for finance and corporate functions.

“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.”

Boehringer Ingelheim said the partnership is part of its comprehensive digital transformation strategy. It said the strategy, which has the aim of better leveraging and accelerating its pipeline, includes increased investment in Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, data science to better understand diseases, their drivers and biomarkers, as well as digital therapeutics.

“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,” said Ryan Babbush, head of quantum algorithms at Google.

Quantum computing it thought to have the potential to accurately simulate and compare much larger molecules than currently possible, creating new opportunities for pharmaceutical innovation and therapies for a range of diseases.

“Researching and developing new, groundbreaking therapies for diseases with high unmet medical need is what our work at Boehringer Ingelheim is all about,” said Michel Pairet, member of the board of managing directors of Boehringer Ingelheim with responsibility for the company’s innovation unit.

“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.”

“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,” added Markus Hoffmann, Google Quantum AI Partnerships.