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The Servier Group opens a worldwide AI Hub in Montréal, in partnership with Centech

December 14, 2020

Servier, an international pharmaceutical company, announces the opening of a worldwide Artificial Intelligence (AI) Hub in Montreal, in partnership with Centech, a deep-tech business incubator recognized as one of the most successful university incubators in the world.

The creation of Servier’s Artificial Intelligence Hub occurs within the framework of the ambitious digital transformation project undertaken by the Group, as they are convinced of the key position that digitalization must have in their activities, and the growing role of artificial intelligence in serving patients’ health needs and in the functioning of organizations.

The hub will be the first international AI unit for the Servier Group. It will be set up by Centech within their existing open innovation platform, Collision Lab, and will complete the creation of a “data” team across the group, aimed in particular at developing initiatives in the field of AI.

Servier’s Artificial Intelligence Hub will be specialized in the area of pharmaceutical Research and Development. The advantages of Centech’s ecosystem, and its recognized expertise in medical technology and the application of AI solutions, will allow the teams to speed up the discovery, development, and deployment of new therapeutic solutions for patients.

The creation of Servier’s worldwide Artificial Intelligence Hub was lauded by Quebec’s minister for Economy and Innovation, Pierre Fitzgibbon.

“I welcome Servier’s decision to have chosen Montréal to establish its Hub in Artificial Intelligence. This decision confirms Québec’s leadership in the field of Artificial Intelligence applied to healthcare. I am convinced that the collaboration between Servier and Centech will pave the way for the accomplishment of many promising projects in healthcare, for the benefit of patients from Québec, Canada and across the world,“ said Minister Fitzgibbon.

Speeding up the development of therapeutic solutions

The aim of the hub will be above all to promote, establish and maintain interactions and collaborations between players in the local ecosystem and Servier’s international Research and Development teams. The hub will also accelerate the adoption and adaptation of Artificial Intelligence tools in the Servier Group’s R&D activities and establish links with Canadian and American regulatory bodies in the area of AI. In addition, Servier’s Artificial Intelligence Hub will also create a presence and a business intelligence function in the ecosystem of Montreal, among the most reputed and dynamic in the world in the AI field.

The creation of this hub represents a major investment for Servier and could reach almost 3 million dollars by 2022, allowing the financing of partnership and/or codevelopment deals with local startups, as well as potential recruitment of experts. The dynamism, the reach, the accessibility, and the attractiveness of Montreal’s ecosystem, which is unique in the world, convinced Servier to choose Canada, and more particularly Quebec, as the location for its first hub dedicated to AI.

This hub, set up at the heart of an ecosystem which is unique in the world, will allow us to explore new technologies which could contribute to improving the performance of the Group in all its areas of activity, and thus support its commitment to therapeutic progress for the good of patients” stated Virginie Dominguez, Chief Digital Officer of the Servier Group. The structuring of a team dedicated to artificial intelligence, and the creation of this Hub, are a powerful testimonial to Servier’s commitment in this field, which could eventually support research, development, production, and availability to patients of new therapeutic solutions.”

For Claude Bertrand, Executive VP for R&D in the Servier Group, Artificial intelligence opens up wonderful perspectives for patients, in particular in detection, prevention, and diagnosis of diseases. It should significantly improve the productivity and efficiency of R&D by influencing all the steps in drug discovery. Our Group has already begun a movement towards data and digitalization, but this Hub will allow us to speed up this transformation by collaborating with one of the world’s best ecosystems.”

Montréal: an ecosystem for artificial intelligence that is unique in the world

Stéphane Paquet, President and Chief Executive Officer of Montréal International: “Greater Montréal is known worldwide for its excellence in artificial intelligence and life sciences, two ecosystems colliding more every day. We are pleased to welcome the Servier’s Artificial Intelligence Hub, which will showcase Montréal’s know-how in these fields. This collaboration with Centech will certainly help to make Greater Montréal even more attractive in this strategic sector.”

For its Artificial Intelligence Hub, Servier chose Centech, a world-caliber incubator which can provide a support environment for artificial intelligence solutions, fostering competition between private and academic entities. Centech hosts businesses with high potential in the area of health and medical technology, and also businesses in the digital and new technology sector, whose experience in developing digital solutions is renowned worldwide. For Centech, this partnership fits perfectly with an open innovation development strategy for large companies wishing to develop technology projects, particularly those using AI.

According to Richard Chénier, General Manager of Centech, As an incubator specializing in deep-tech which supports, in particular, startups in the medical field, we are very proud to have been chosen by a major international player in pharmaceuticals such as Servier. By joining our open innovation platform Collision Lab, the Servier Group will benefit from the technological expertise of our companies specialized in medical technologies, and of our ecosystem which promotes the integration of artificial intelligence solutions.”

About Servier

Servier is an international pharmaceutical company governed by a non-profit foundation, with its headquarters in France (Suresnes). With a strong international presence in 150 countries and a total revenue of 4.6 billion euros in 2019, Servier employs 22,000 people worldwide. Entirely independent, the Group invests on average 25% of its total revenue (excluding generics) every year in research and development and uses all its profits for its development. Corporate growth is driven by Servier’s constant commitment in five areas of excellence: cardiovascular, immune-inflammatory, and neurodegenerative diseases, cancer and diabetes, as well as by its activities in high-quality generic drugs. Servier also offers eHealth solutions beyond drug development.

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About Centech

Dedicated to high-tech (deeptech) companies with high growth potential, Centech is a world-class business incubator based in Montreal.

Centech is a non-profit organization open to everyone and offers two support programs for startups: the Acceleration program (12 weeks), then the strongest potentials are selected to get into the Propulsion program (24 months).

Since 2018, Centech has its own open innovation platform, Collision Lab, where big corporations are supported to integrate technology projects thanks to the agility of startups and the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Centech performs particularly well in the fields of medical technology, manufacturing, telecoms and microelectronics and other intelligent objects.

In 2019, Centech was recognized by UBI Global as one of the most successful university incubators in the world.

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