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The French pharmaceutical company Servier was on the lookout for promising Russian technology at the Skolkovo Technopark on Tuesday, when it met with startups with a view to snapping up their solutions for its innovative e-health activities.
Marina Tsverkun presents CardioPlus' innovative test for detecting the risk of a heart attack. Photo: Sk.ru.
The session was the third in a series of French Tech Connect meetings organised by the Skolkovo Foundation, French Tech Moscow and Business France.
Russia is the second biggest market for Servier’s drugs, behind China and followed by Canada, France and Italy, David Guez, managing director of WeHealth and R&D special projects at Servier Group, said on Tuesday. WeHealth is the French company’s brand devoted to e-health, and aims to be a world e-health leader by 2020, said Guez.
One of the aims of e-health is disease prevention, and Servier’s particular focus is on cardiology: the number one global cause of death for both men and women is heart disease. One of the six startups selected to meet with Servier on Tuesday from an original batch of more than 40 companies focuses on identifying the immediate risk of a heart attack.
CardioPlus, a resident of Skolkovo’s biomed cluster, has developed a testing system to determine acute coronary syndrome and acute myocardial infarction (a heart attack), Marina Tsverkun, a marketing representative for CardioPlus, said Tuesday, presenting her company’s project. Based in the science city of Obninsk in the Kaluga region, the company has designed a test that can give a result in 10 minutes based on one drop of blood from a person’s finger. The test is easy to use and is designed to be used by people at risk of heart attacks and their relatives, as well as medical staff, said Tsverkun. It has no direct analogues, she added.
David Guez, managing director of WeHealth and R&D special projects at Servier Group. Photo: Sk.ru.
Tuesday’s day-long event included short pitches of six startups selected in advance by Servier, followed by individual meetings between the companies and Servier. Ruslan Altaev, development and key partners director at Skolkovo’s biomed cluster, said previous meetings with Servier had proven highly productive.
“We’ve already shown about 20-25 companies to Servier since the beginning of this year,” he told Sk.ru. “Servier has selected a couple of our companies and is already signing non-disclosure agreements with them. We have high hopes that there will be licensing deals before the end of the year.”
Tuesday’s event was the first time that Servier had been invited to meet tech startups specifically within the French Tech Connect format. The previous two events presented tech startups to the French retailer Auchan and tyre manufacturer Michelin, and were a big success, said Vera Bunina, who coordinates the events on Skolkovo’s side.
“The process for French Tech Connect is first preliminary selection [by the French company], then a general face-to-face meeting, after which the startup’s technology is referred to the production department for testing, approval and introduction,” explained Bunina.
Skolkovo's Ruslan Altaev says previous meetings with France's Servier pharma company this year have been highly productive. Photo: Sk.ru.
“Of 30 countries that passed the pitching stage with Auchan and Michelin at the first Connect event back in December, about 20 Skolkovo companies made it through to the testing stage, and now they’re at various stages of testing. We hope that several companies will soon be signing contracts with Auchan,” she added.
The French Tech Connect events are not exclusively for Skolkovo resident startups, but for any innovative tech firms selected by French Tech as being of possible interest to the company in question.
“We present Skolkovo as a meeting point for innovations and a point of entry for Russian innovations onto foreign markets – not only for Skolkovo ones,” said Bunina.
Having found the format to be successful, Skolkovo’s international relations department is now looking to expand it to other countries, and representatives of the Dutch embassy and Spain’s Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology were also present at Tuesday’s meeting.
French Tech Moscow, which offers a helping hand to French startups that want to enter the Russian market, was launched by French President Emmanuel Macron when he visited the Skolkovo innovation centre last year in his then-capacity as France’s Minister for Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs.