Sanofi tastes the waters of a better knowledge and relationship with startups

BY Fernando L. Mompó on 11 / 09 / 2015

Change acceleration and increasing complexity of challenges create a new innovation paradigm in which a more “intimate” relationship with startups won’t be an option anymore for bigger stablished companies. But for this kind of new liaisons to happen, looking to a business plan or a list of patents is not enough. Deeper bonds and connections need foreplay.

Companies already trying to have an innovation ecosystem around them are using different strategies and approaches. Creating or somehow getting involved in startups accelerators is just one of them, and an increasing number of such initiatives already show a diverse grades of scale, investment, implication and results.

Contests, open challenges, prizes or training and networking programs offer some other alternatives, especially for those who prefer “testing the waters” of the returns and difficulties that this kind of open innovation could represent before trying initiatives needing a bigger involvement.

This is the case of Health-U. We could not just leave unnoticed this initiative implemented by pharmaceutical Sanofi in Spain as an example of a program designed by a big multinational to find and getting to know better startups offering innovative and creative solutions in their business areas. Firstly, because as we have already point out, Health is an industry that can nowadays specially benefit from open innovation

A second reason has more “personal” implications: Health-U is one of the final outcomes of an innovation process initiated by Sanofi Spain and managed by Infonomia, founder and driver of Co-Society project. This process involved different multidisciplinary groups of Sanofi professionals, each one of them addressing a challenge or opportunity detected after a close look to the company’s business model. One of these groups addressed the need of a better knowledge and relationships with startups working on fields Sanofi is also interested. And now Health-U is born.

Health-U is a training and advice program aimed at startups developing ideas or applications to improve cholesterol control by patients, reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, provide health care assistance or follow-up people in treatment. The program is also open to projects on nutrition and healthy living counseling, pathology education, remote treatment and monitoring of patients or improving the doctor-patient communication.

A committee of Sanofi and industry experts will selected six winning proposals from applications. The selection criteria will take into account innovation, purpose and potential of each of the projects. The six startups selected will participate in the Startup Week 2015, taking place in Barcelona from 5th to 9th October 2015.

Experts in health management and entrepreneurship, academics and professionals from Sanofi and health sector will be responsible for providing the various activities of the program, designed to comprehensively address how their business model could fit into the health sector. Startup Week 2015 will end with a presentation of projects to different stakeholders in the health sector through a session of ‘elevator pitchs’. And finally, Sanofi will offer half a year of counseling and mentoring to boost the new businesses.

Sanofi Health-U  


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