Earlier this week, the winner of Sanofi US’s 2012 Data Design Diabetes Innovation Challenge, an open competition that encourages the use of data and design to improve diabetes care, was announced: n4a Diabetes Care Center. n4a is developing a way to target diabetics that are not properly managing their condition in order to stage interventions that might prevent hospitalizations. It will receive $100,000 in prize money from Sanofi to help it develop its solution.
n4a could have an interesting tie-in with another Sanofi US Diabetes partner, Maya Food Oasis, which is trying to create a virtual grocery marketplace to improve access to healthy and affordable food in food deserts. Maya Food Oasis received funding from Sanofi after presenting at the Health Data Initiative and is another interesting partnership that says something about the direction Sanofi US, a pharmaceutical company, is moving. “My team did a lot of work around food deserts, and how could we create access to healthy food…when we saw the Maya presentation, we wanted to find a way to work with them and learn together,” says Michele Polz, the Head of Patient Solutions at Sanofi US Diabetes.
Sanofi US’s use of challenges, which we will dig into deeper in an upcoming post, are proving to be an effective way for it to find external partners.
The 2011 Data Design Diabetes winner, Ginger.io, analyzes mobile phone data to determine the mood of its owner, relying on data points like how often they are making phone calls or texting. In the case of diabetes, people with the disease can be prone to depression and using the phone as an early warning system could help a company like Sanofi tailor an intervention that helps people better manage their physical and mental health. Ginger.io went on to raise $1.7 million in venture funding after the competition.