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Sanofi joins fellow French firms in venture to boost digital health solutions

Sanofi is pooling digital resources, know-how and capital in a new joint venture to drive healthcare solutions.

The French pharma is joining tech firm Capgemini, insurance company Generali and telecom provider Orange—all fellow French companies—with plans to advance healthcare innovation in Europe. While specifics are still emerging, the group plans to work with startups and focus on key themes in technology, pathology, patient populations or public health for a year or two at a time.
The four founders will invest €24 million upfront in the Paris-based effort, set to launch virtually in June and physically in December.
“Sanofi is the largest healthcare company headquartered in France, and we have a vested interest in developing and nurturing an ecosystem that will play a part in moving innovation forward, especially in our very own backyard,” a Sanofi spokesperson said in an email.
Each founder will contribute technology, expertise and data, combining resources from large companies to work with innovative and agile startups on joint projects.
The companies hope the open-innovation approach will spur “disruptive new models,” according to a news release.
The alliance fits with Sanofi’s long-held digital ambitions, accelerated when CEO Paul Hudson took the helm in 2019. He shook up executive ranks and installed Sanofi’s first dedicated chief digital officer, doubling down on boosting the company’s digital capabilities in an earnings call early last year.

Doing so requires advancing goals through partnerships like the latest Paris venture, but also on its own. As Hudson said about big tech partners shortly after joining Sanofi, “It’s great to develop digital externally, but what about being a digital company?”
Chief Digital Officer Arnaud Robert recently laid out the company’s own tech plans for 2021 at the annual J.P. Morgan healthcare conference, working on a push for patient engagement and digital marketing in specialty care, scaling e-commerce for vaccines and incorporating data to boost return on investment in consumer healthcare.