Variational AI announces generative AI project with Merck

Merck to evaluate Variational AI’s Enki™ generative AI platform to design novel and selective small molecules

Vancouver, BC – January 25, 2024 – Variational AI, developer of the Enki™ generative artificial intelligence (AI) platform for drug discovery, today announced a project with Merck Research Labs supported by the CQDM Quantum Leap program.

“We are pleased to announce Merck as an early-access user of our Enki™ Platform.” said Handol Kim, CEO, Variational AI. “Merck will evaluate Enki’s ability to generate novel small molecules on targets of their choosing. We built and trained Enki™ as a foundation model that generates novel, selective, and synthesizable lead-like structures. It designs novel molecules how other generative AI foundation models like DALL-E and Midjourney create novel images based on text prompts. In our case, a target product profile (TPP) is used as the series of prompts to describe the molecules in the language of chemistry. Enki™ then rapidly generates structures that meet the TPP.”

“Adoption of AI for drug discovery is accelerating, but it is being led by companies using their proprietary AI to discover and develop their own assets.” Explained Kim, “With the Enki™ Platform, chemists do not need to develop their own generative AI models, but can now submit their TPPs and get novel, diverse, selective, and synthesizable lead-like structures in days to move quickly into lead optimization.”

The collaboration is supported by CQDM under the Quantum Leap program.

“CQDM is pleased to have facilitated the establishment of collaborations for Variational AI by creating beneficial links with Merck, a global biopharmaceutical organization. These links between early-stage Canadian companies and the biopharmaceutical industry are critical for the growth of the Canadian life sciences sector,” said Jesse Paterson, Senior Director, BD.

About Variational AI

Variational AI is redefining the unit economics of drug discovery and development through the power of generative AI. Variational AI’s Enki™ Platform is a foundation model for small molecule drug discovery to accelerate and de-risk early-stage discovery. Please visit

About CQDM
Facilitator of biopharma innovation

CQDM is a not-for-profit biopharmaceutical research consortium whose mission is to support and facilitate multi-stakeholder collaborative R&D aimed at accelerating the translation of innovative technologies into solutions that address unmet medical needs, while generating significant benefits for the Quebec and Canadian economy. For more information, please visit the website:

Media Contact
Handol Kim