Sanofi will be participating in talks across digital health, leadership, gender balance, ROI in R&D and other key focus areas. BIO is occurring in Boston,
Adam Keeney, Sanofi’s Global Head of External Innovation & R&D Strategy discusses our partnership approach in biotechnology.
AK: Many innovations in biotechnology today have their origins in small, entrepreneurial companies launched by individuals with expertise and a vision for improving patient lives and outcomes.
Making them available to patients, though, takes more than a just great idea. To create a new cancer therapy, change how clinical trials are conducted, or streamline vaccine manufacturing takes capital, established market access, and an ability to scale.
While some entrepreneurs are able to do build these critical things on their own, for most of them the solution is to seek out a partner that can connect them to this larger ecosystem. Often that’s an established global biopharma company like Sanofi, one that has those resources and recognizes the synergies those partnerships offer to them and to patients.
Because of the value these new entrants can offer, Sanofi has made partnership an essential component of it strategy for growth across every part of the company. The goal is to engage with companies in ways that work for both them and for Sanofi and have the best chance of driving those ideas to market in order to deliver the best, most innovative solutions for patients.
This partnership approach extends beyond drug discovery to the idea of “drugs plus,” where digital solutions are combined with drugs to improve outcomes. That can range from using Artificial Intelligence to identify biomarkers to employing advances in mHealth and mobile devices to support siteless clinical trials or increase access to care in under-resourced areas. It also extends to development of products with wide application in the emerging markets where Sanofi has an extensive footprint.
This dedication to partnerships is more than an adjunct to the company’s own internal R&D advances: It is central to how the company operates and plans for its future.
“Everyone at Sanofi has a deep commitment to have us be one of the best pharmaceutical companies in the industry and bring important healthcare solutions to people in need, all over the world,” said Muzammil Mansuri, Executive Vice President of Strategy & Business Development. “We recognize that, while we have exceptional talent inside the company, there are also exceptionally talented and dedicated people and great ideas outside our walls that can advance our mission. Working with these people and ideas as a partner is core to what we do and think about.”
AK: Because there are such a wide range of ideas, company structures and developmental challenges involved with collaborations, Sanofi has developed three different partnering models. Together, they offer a flexible approach that can be responsive and customized to the specific needs of potential partners.
For opportunities that could reshape the portfolio and support R&D innovation across its strategic priorities, Sanofi focuses on a corporate partnering approach. The company’s Business Development & Licensing has global scope, across all business units and therapeutic areas. It has the flexibility to pursue a broad range of deal structures, including in- and out-licensing, R&D collaborations and M&A (asset/company acquisitions and divestitures) to models such as joint ventures, commercial collaborations and other types of strategic alliances.
The company also operates a venture capital arm, Sanofi Ventures, that acquires equity stakes in early stage healthcare companies, typically seed or series A level financing. These are typically aligned with Sanofi’s areas of strategic focus, notably rare diseases, vaccines, potential cures in other core areas of Sanofi’s business footprint, and digital health solutions. In recognition of the speed at which innovation is happening in the industry, Sanofi Ventures has an expedited decision-making process enabling flexible, rapid and clear investment decisions.
Finally, Sanofi Sunrise invests in innovations that are best developed through focused efforts by entrepreneurs in new start-up biotech companies. It is a company co-creation and incubation vehicle with a primary goal of accelerating the delivery of transformative treatments to patients while adding innovative products to the Sanofi pipeline. Sanofi Sunrise seeks programs based on novel biological insights across all therapeutic areas. Typically, Sanofi Sunrise seeks out product opportunities with a two-to-four year timeline to an IND filingn at the time of its initial investment.
Sanofi is always looking for opportunities to collaborate with innovative thinkers and researchers with the potential to create value for patients as well as the partners.