Working with the drug industry

Learn about pharmaceutical laboratories' Open Innovation programs and their impact on your business model

  • Drug companies offer a variety of mentoring programs to help you grow your business.
  • You’ll get access to the network of expertise and know-how of major pharmaceutical companies, on subjects like the regulatory process, drugs, illnesses, or knowledge of the needs of patients and healthcare professionals, for example.

Open innovation and drug companies

What types of support programmes are there? What do they offer?

Open innovation programs from pharmaceutical companies can take different forms: mentoring/acceleration programs or innovation catalysts.

  • They allow you to benefit from the expertise of the laboratories, sometimes on very specific therapeutic areas and health subjects.
  • Some of them also offer financial support and/or premises to develop your project. On-site, a dedicated team will be able to offer you a range of services adapted to facilitate your seed phase, co-develop and accelerate the marketing of your solutions.

For whom and why?

For whom?

  • For start-ups offering innovative solutions, particularly in eHealth, digital health and data science.
  • For the majority of the programs, a few prerequisites: Having already created the company, put together the team, validated a proof of concept, and gotten market feedback. However, the expectations in terms of technological and/or market maturity level depend on each programme.


  • To benefit from the scientific and methodological expertise of the pharmaceutical industry and to access its network of players (national and international), financial resources, regulatory and legal skills and market access.

Some questions to ask yourself before you start

  • Will I have time for the mentoring sessions, workshops and possibly interviews that will be conducted as part of the programme?
  • Is the pharmaceutical company I am applying to clearly identified in my business model?
  • Have I correctly identified why the laboratory would want to work with my company rather than another one?
  • Are the therapeutic and/or technological areas of my project aligned with those of the laboratory?
  • Am I ready to bring a manufacturer into my company’s capital?
  • How will the results of the project be promoted through publications and how will intellectual property be shared?
  • Am I ready to grant exclusivity to a laboratory for the entire duration of the support, in one or more countries?

How and when should I submit an application?

Some programs select their winners as the year progresses, others operate on a seasonal basis, with specific application schedules. The best thing to do is to consult the websites of the programmes to find out if your company is eligible and fits with the defined topics.

Some tips for your application

  • Clearly state your motivation for joining the program: Not just why it would be good for you, but also for the laboratory!
  • Show that you have carried out an in-depth market analysis: Who are your competitors? What are your competitive advantages and their barriers to entry?
  • Present a viable, credible business model that the pharmaceutical company can identify with.
  • Present the expected benefits of the project, for the health system, for patients and health professionals, and also for your company and the laboratory.
  • Describe the technological, social and organisational innovation of your project, as well as the stage of development reached, without disclosing confidential information.
  • Describe the governance of your start-up along with your financial structure.

Examples of support programs

  • AstraZeneca's ReAliZe
  • Roche's Matrix
  • Amgen Innovations
  • Ipsen's Spinleap
  • Pfizer Healthcare Hub France
  • Boehringer Ingelheim's Synapse
  • Sanofi's 39Bis
  • Biome by Novartis
  • Janssen’s JLabs