Chinese search engine giant Baidu has been in talks with investors for the past three years to raise $2 billion to set up a new biotech company,media reported.

The company will be fully independent rather than exist as a subsidiary of Baidu, people familiar with the matter said, but the project does not allow for public discussions.

The person familiar with the matter also mentioned that many investors are interested in joining the investment, but these discussions are still in the early stages, so the specific details have not been released. Baidu, which was first disclosed by Reuters, declined to comment when contacted by CNBC.

It is understood that the biotech company will focus on using artificial intelligence and computing to create new drugs and provide early diagnosis of diseases such as cancer, the person added. Scanning medical images with powerful algorithms can make medicine faster than humans.

Baidu’s move is part of an attempt by Chinese tech companies to bolster their medical standing, which has also been accelerated by the coronavirus outbreak. Alibaba, Tencent-invested WeDoctor, and Huawei have also successively entered businesses such as drug transportation, online medical treatment, and medical image analysis.

Earlier this year, Baidu shared its “LinerFold” algorithm for free with genetic testing agencies, the CDC and research institutes. The algorithm is designed to determine the genetic makeup of the virus, thereby helping in vaccine development.

In addition, Baidu, a typical Internet company, has been expanding in areas such as driverless cars and medical technology in recent years, as its core business has been facing increasing competition.

Baidu CEO Robin Li is also personally involved in the biotech project, according to the person familiar with the matter.

This article is comprehensively reported by electronic enthusiasts, and the content is referenced from Reuters and CNBC.

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