The Value of Industry-Academic Collaboration

Sridan Natesan, Sanofi
Sridar Natesan, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Scientific Relations, shares his perspectives on open innovation and the importance of fostering scientific partnerships with academic institutions, as advances in biotechnology continue to change the model of drug discovery.

Combining the "blue-skies" thinking of academic organizations with the innovative culture of pharmaceutical R&D can be a powerful way to transform new discoveries into medicines that help people lead better, longer lives. As Sanofi embarks on a new partnership with Stanford University, I am excited to see new opportunities emerge that will advance our efforts to help people suffering from immune, autoimmune, and inflammation conditions that have long eluded treatment.

Working together, our scientists will launch projects to delve into the role of genomics in autoimmune disease, uncover drivers of type 1 diabetes, and explore cytokine engineering as a route to controlling type 2 inflammation. And that is just the beginning.

This partnership exemplifies and further strengthens the spirit of open innovation at Sanofi. For example, through our awards programs for innovation in biomedicine (iAwards) and data exploration and analytics (iDEA), our scientists:

  • collaborate with academic scientists engaged in ground-breaking research,
  • test promising ideas using industrial infrastructure,
  • design and test potential solutions to our existing portfolio challenges, and
  • accelerate the translation of new discoveries into the clinic.

Infographic listing Sanofi programs 

Sanofi fosters collaboration through sponsored research; global iAwards for biomedical innovation; iDEA Awards (North America) and iTECH Awards (Europe) for innovation in data, artificial intelligence and technology; and strategic partnerships with major institutions in focused therapeutic areas. Sanofi's iAwards program has been implemented in 16 academic centers in Europe and Israel

In North America, more than 25 academic medical centers participate in our award programs, which has helped to advance our pipeline and propelled the launch of spin-off companies that address challenges in oncology, diabetes, infectious diseases and autoimmunity areas. Such companies are a lynchpin in drug discovery, reinforcing the bridge between academic exploration and the development of new medicines.

For those of us who have dedicated their lives to relieving suffering through drug discovery and development, the fresh perspectives and new experiences that characterize cross-sector collaboration are priceless. They challenge us to think bigger, look at things differently, and change our expectation of what is possible.

Our new strategic partnership with Stanford and our commitment to the award programs and to expanding our networks, promote scientific exchange in ways that bring us closer to predicting, preventing, treating, or even curing diseases. That's why we're here. I could not be prouder.

By Sridar Natesan, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Scientific Relations

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