The collaboration will bring together the computational services, cloud, and AI capabilities of Microsoft and Novo Nordisk’s know-how in drug discovery and development and data science


Novo Nordisk is a Denmark-based pharma company. (Credit: Novo Nordisk A/S)

Danish pharma company Novo Nordisk has forged a new partnership with Microsoft with an aim to expedite drug discovery and development by leveraging big data and artificial intelligence (AI).

The collaboration will combine the computational services, cloud, and AI capabilities of Microsoft with Novo Nordisk’s expertise in drug discovery and development and data science.

Novo Nordisk’s data scientists as well as its domain experts from early research and development (R&D) areas will work alongside Microsoft, which will provide AI technology, foundational science models and expertise to fast track the pharma company’s R&D.

Novo Nordisk digital science and innovation senior vice president Lars Fogh Iversen said: “We are very excited about this new partnership that allows us to work closely together with key experts from Microsoft as we look to expand our digital science and AI capabilities.

“Together, we are on a path to enable faster and scaled use of AI in drug discovery, ultimately leading to more breakthrough innovations and efficiency gain to better serve the needs of patients.”

According to Novo Nordisk, AI models resulting from the partnership will be applied to a variety of use cases, of which the first two are being executed already.

One of the use cases is centred on automated summarisation and analysis of information from sources like patents, literature, discussion forums, and scientific reports for getting novel scientific insights.

A second use case is intended to build models for predicting an individual’s risk of getting atherosclerosis. The AI technology will also be utilised for identifying novel targets and establishing biomarkers of the disease.

Microsoft technology and research division AI architecture and strategy corporate vice president Vijay Mital said: “The collaboration with Novo Nordisk is a great opportunity for us to collectively advance the state of the art of AI itself and apply it in a way that amplifies the creativity of human experts.

“To achieve this ambition, AI needs to learn from every type of information that subject matter experts find valuable and that requires the type of close interaction between multiple disciplines we see in this partnership.”