Bayer AG and Novartis AG are leading the way for artificial intelligence investment among top pharma companies according to our analysis of a range of GlobalData data.

Artificial intelligence has become one of the key themes in the pharma sector of late, with companies hiring for increasingly more roles, making more deals, registering more patents and mentioning it more often in company filings.

These themes, of which artificial intelligence is one, are best thought of as “any issue that keeps a CEO awake at night”, and by tracking and combining them, it becomes possible to ascertain which companies are leading the way on specific issues and which are dragging their heels.

According to GlobalData analysis, Bayer AG is one of the artificial intelligence leaders in a list of high-revenue companies in the pharma industry, having advertised for 241 positions in artificial intelligence, made six deals related to the field, filed nine patents and mentioned artificial intelligence three times in company filings between January 2020 and June 2021.

Our analysis classified eight companies as Most Valuable Players – or MVPs – due to their high number of new jobs, deals, patents and company filings mentions in the field of artificial intelligence. An additional 10 companies are classified as Market Leaders and zero are Average Players. Three more companies are classified as Late Movers due to their relatively lower levels of jobs, deals, patents and company filings in artificial intelligence.

For the purpose of this analysis, we’ve ranked top companies in the pharma sector on each of the four metrics relating to artificial intelligence: jobs, deals, patents and company filings. The best-performing companies – the ones ranked at the top across all or most metrics – were categorised as MVPs while the worst performers – companies ranked at the bottom of most indicators – were classified as Late Movers.

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AstraZeneca Plc is spearheading the artificial intelligence hiring race, advertising for 676 new jobs between January 2020 and June 2021. The company reached peak hiring in April 2021, when it listed 73 new job ads related to artificial intelligence.

Johnson & Johnson followed AstraZeneca Plc as the second most proactive artificial intelligence employer, advertising for 616 new positions. Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd was third with 545 new job listings.

When it comes to deals, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co leads with seven new artificial intelligence deals announced from January 2020 to June 2021. The company was followed by Bayer AG with six deals and Novartis AG with five.

GlobalData's Financial Deals Database covers hundreds of thousands of M&A contracts, private equity deals, venture finance deals, private placements, IPOs and partnerships, and it serves as an indicator of economic activity within a sector.

One of the most innovative pharma companies in recent months was F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd, having filed 17 patent applications related to artificial intelligence since the beginning of last year. It was followed by Bayer AG with nine patents and Sanofi with seven.

GlobalData collects patent filings from 100+ counties and jurisdictions. These patents are then tagged according to the themes they relate to, including artificial intelligence, based on specific keywords and expert input. The patents are also assigned to a company to identify the most innovative players in a particular field.

Finally, artificial intelligence was a commonly mentioned theme in pharma company filings. Pfizer Inc mentioned artificial intelligence six times in its corporate reports between January 2020 and June 2021. AstraZeneca Plc filings mentioned it four times and GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) mentioned it four times.