Sanofi furthers its digital ambitions with Paris accelerator

Sanofi Headquarters in Paris

Sanofi has launched a new initiative in its drive to integrate digital technologies throughout its business, setting up an accelerator based in Paris that will serve as the lynchpin of the effort.

The accelerator has been set up to "develop products and solutions that will support Sanofi's mission to transform the practice of medicine with the use of digital, data and artificial intelligence (AI)", said the drugmaker.

It already boasts a team of 75 experts and will recruit additional staff in areas like digital product management, full stack development and data science, it added, working with the Women In Tech non-profit group to close the gender gap in its workforce.

The first task for the accelerator will be to address the needs of patients with atopic dermatitis – a key indication for Sanofi's blockbuster immunology medicine Dupixent (dupilumab) - in France, Italy, and Spain, through the development of a data platform that will improve engagement with healthcare professionals.

The accelerator's headcount is expected to reach 300 within two years, and while Paris will remain at the core, other locations will be considered that can support Sanofi's global digital strategy.

Sanofi has been steadily building its digital credentials under CEO Paul Hudson, who took the helm in 2019, and published its first digital strategy last year, which included a plan to build more in-house expertise after years of relying on external partners.

An early move was the appointment of Arnaud Robert as chief digital officer, who is spearheading the new accelerator project and has overseen more than 300 digital hires at the company in the last 18 months.

"Sanofi's digital transformation is driven by a business and cultural shift as much as it is by technology," commented Robert.

"The digital accelerator will help us democratise the use of data, develop an agile mindset across the company, and accelerate innovation for patients and healthcare professionals – at speed and scale," he added.

Among the digital projects already in progress at Sanofi is the discovery of new drug targets using AI, use of AI for R&D image analysis, using digital technologies to improve clinical trial efficiencies, and digitising manufacturing processes.

By 2025, the objective is to have deployed digital approaches across its operations, from R&D to manufacturing and commercial, and to be offering a broad range of tools for patients and healthcare professionals.