Building on its recent moves in the life sciences market, Google Monday announced a partnership with French pharmaceutical company Sanofi on diabetes management-related technologies.
The two companies will collaborate on finding new ways to treat and manage type 1 and type 2 diabetes, with Sanofi pairing its expertise in diabetes treatment and devices with Google’s skills in the areas of technology and big data analytics.
“The companies will explore how to improve diabetes care by developing new tools that bring together many of the previously siloed pieces of diabetes management,” Sanofi said in a release announcing the partnership.
The effort will be to find better ways to collect and analyze the multiple sources of information pertaining to diabetes, including health indicators such as blood glucose levels, hemoglobin counts and patient-reported data, the release noted. “The hope is that it will be easier for patients to successfully manage their diabetes, which would reduce the risk of complications, improve outcomes and ultimately lower costs.”
News of the partnership comes just days after Google announced plans to break its Life Sciences team out of its present home in the company’s semi-secret Project X group and establish it as a stand-alone company under Alphabet. Andy Conrad, who headed the Life Sciences team at Google, has been named CEO of the new company.
Since it was launched three years ago, the Google Life Sciences team has ventured into several areas of research and development. But diabetes management appears to be a particular area of focus for the group.
In addition to the Sanofi partnership announced today, Google for instance is also working with Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis on a smart contact lens technology that will be capable of measuring and monitoring glucose levels in human tears.
More recently, Google announced a partnership with San Diego-based DexCom to jointly build next-generation continuous glucose monitoring tools for people with diabetes. The products being developed by the two companies are designed to be low-cost, Band-Aid sized disposable monitoring tools for diabetes patients.
In addition to its partnerships around diabetes management, Google is working with Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon in the area of minimally invasive surgical instruments. The two companies hope to develop and deliver a range of robot-assisted surgical platforms for use in operating rooms over the next few years. As with the Sanofi partnership, Google is hoping to leverage its expertise in the areas of real-time image analytics and sensor technology to integrate new smarts into minimally invasive surgical tools from Ethicon.
Google’s blossoming efforts in the life sciences arena are emblematic of the company’s business diversification strategy in recent years. Few of Google’s new ventures have had little, if anything, to do with the company’s roots in the search engine space. Instead, efforts like its autonomous car initiative, its Fiber high-speed Internet project, its push into the wireless carrier space and its balloon-powered Internet have only taken the company increasingly far afield of its core competencies.
Google’s founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have previously described such seemingly scattershot ventures as vital to the company’s future. But in establishing the Alphabet holding company earlier this summer, they have also acknowledged the need for a better structure for managing the myriad ventures more efficiently.