Sanofi contest gooses diabetes technological innovation

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Social solutions best high tech in Sanofi contest
Social solutions best high tech in Sanofi contest

Sanofi has kicked off its second annual, social-media-driven Data Design Diabetes Innovation Challenge contest, which last year kicked up a wealth of innovative ideas and buzz for the price of $200,000 in prize money and a few salaries.

The prize money “yielded ideas in six months that would have taken four to five years to develop at ten times the cost,” said Sanofi's Dennis Urbaniak, VP US diabetes.

Submissions for the contest, which aims to boost development of apps and other tools to make life easier for people with diabetes, were accepted through March 23. Five semi-finalists will show their work to a panel of judges in May, then two finalists will be awarded $10,000 to participate in a “community uptake exercise.” A winner, to be named in July, gets a $100,000 grand prize. This year Sanofi is adding a “Design and Prototype Bootcamp” for the semifinalists. Participants also get a partnership with Startup America.

Last year's winners, a pair of MIT grads calling themselves Ginger.io, went on to raise $1.7 million in seed funding with their behavior analytics app.

Other pharmas, including Janssen and Novartis, have since launched innovation challenge-style contests, noted Sara Holoubek, CEO of Luminary Labs, the firm Sanofi engaged to work on the contest's design.

“It's a win-win for everyone,” said Holoubek. “Startups are getting media attention and resources. Patients are getting new solutions, and Sanofi is getting new innovations.”
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