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Sanofi opens UK bioscience partnering office

Locates new unit at the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst

Stevenage BioScience Catalyst 

Sanofi has opened an office in Stevenage that will try to foster partnerships with life science research groups in the UK.

The French pharma giant is locating the unit at the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (pictured above), one of the main bioclusters in the UK located within the often-cited biosciences 'golden triangle' extending between London, Oxford and Cambridge.

The opening of the office "reflects Sanofi's commitment to open innovation and collaboration that is necessary to accelerate the translation of transformative innovation", said the company in a joint statement with the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC).

There has been a major drive towards an open innovation model among big pharma companies, seeking to forge closer ties with small biopharma companies and academic groups in recognition that relying on in-house pharma R&D is no longer enough to remain competitive

For its part, Sanofi recently set up what it calls an Open Innovation Access Platform (OIAP) - operating out of Strasbourg in France - to pursue what it describes as "borderless innovation" in which it shares risk and benefits with academic or biotech partners. 

Other drugmakers are adopting similar strategies. AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline recently set up a new £40m fund to help UK universities translate research findings into new therapies, J&J has set up a network of partnering offices across the company, and GSK runs a drug discovery challenge to try to tease promising new projects in academia out into the open.

By setting up at the SBC, Sanofi is following in the footsteps of several other drugmakers - including Eli Lilly and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) - which already have units at the cluster. 

Setting up the SBC office will hemp Sanofi bring "breakthrough science to the clinic and to accelerate the translation of innovation into effective treatments for patients", said Yvonne Naughton, head of external science and partnering for the company's UK & Ireland subsidiary. 

“We recognise that the next big discovery may come from outside of our own laboratories [and] core to our strategy is to build strong relationships with biotechnology organisations, research institutes and academic centres," she added.

The SBC was the first open innovation campus to open in the UK in the wake of the government's £180m Biomedical Catalyst programme, backed by central funding along with support from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the Wellcome Trust.

Article by
Phil Taylor

14th April 2016

From: Research

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