Tunisia: BioNTech Acquires Tunisian-Run AI Startup InstaDeep

by | Jan 11, 2023 | Economic, Tunisia


This week German biotechnology company BioNTech announced its acquisition of the Tunisian-run, UK-based artificial intelligence startup, InstaDeep, for $682 million. The acquisition is part of BioNTech’s larger strategy to become a leader in AI-based drug research. BioNTech specializes in the development and manufacture of immunotherapies in the treatment of serious diseases, and recently developed of one of the COVID-19 vaccines.

InstaDeep was founded in 2014 by Tunisians Karim Beguir and Zohra Slim with starting capital of 5,000 dinars and two computers. Over six years they built InstaDeep into a high-performing artificial intelligence startup.

This acquisition follows an ongoing partnership between the two companies which has grown steadily since 2019. In November 2020, the two companies announced a multi-year strategic collaboration which led to the development of new drugs for a range of cancers and infectious diseases.

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2023, subject to closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Upon closing, InstaDeep will operate as the international subsidiary of UK-based BioNTech. InstaDeep will take center stage on a growing set of initiatives at BioNTech around artificial intelligence and machine learning.


The InstaDeep acquisition is an affirmation of the potential for Tunisian entrepreneurs to build products and capabilities that can impact the global technology and business landscape. However, the acquisition highlights the challenges Tunisians face as they pursue entrepreneurial endeavors. InstaDeep’s growth was facilitated by its ability to continue operations in Tunis, while being based in the UK, where the regulatory environment is more permissive for meaningful growth and eventual acquisition.


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