Microsoft and AstraZeneca join forces on artificial intelligence for healthcare

Microsoft and AstraZeneca have announced an artificial intelligence (AI) collaboration for the benefit of healthcare patients, by introducing the AI Factory for Health.

Founded in partnership with Inria, the French national research institute for the digital sciences, the AI Factory embodies Microsoft’s determination to contribute actively to the deployment and development of AI. Since its founding, 27 startups have enjoyed the support of the AI Factory – each benefiting from a partnership encompassing technical, marketing and business elements. From mentoring to technical advice on their solutions, to recommendations on how best to promote and market them through co-marketing or co-selling, Microsoft offers each startup personalized advice at every stage of its growth.

With the benefit of two years’ maturity, Microsoft and its ecosystem have now identified five key sectors for the AI Factory to pursue: health, environment/energy, transport, financial services and food production.

The twin aims of the recently announced AI Factory for Health are to support innovation in the healthcare sector and to help early-stage startups pursue their development in AI and cloud computing to push back the frontiers of science. Designed as a powerful accelerator for startups, this program sees itself as a co-innovation laboratory, bringing together startups, the world of research and the different sector players. Thanks to the resulting synergies, AI Factory for Health projects will work in the interests of patients and the medical corps to offer a new and individualized medicine.

Startups joining the AI Factory for Health will be able to draw on AstraZeneca’s expertise in diseases and in the needs of patients and healthcare professionals, as well as its legal skills, and its access to healthcare establishments and health data across all the countries in which it operates in Europe. Microsoft will provide access to its technological skills and the services of the Azure platform, as well as personalized support, in particular via its commercial network.

Inria, the French national research institute for the digital sciences, France Digitale, the iPEPS-ICM incubator and venture capital investors Partech and Serena are also partnering with the AI Factory for Health and will be involved at the various stages of the program – AI startup sourcing, selection process, coaching, etc. – to bring their expertise to the table.

In today’s world, technology is transforming many practices in healthcare, in addition to the development of therapeutic solutions, putting patients at the heart of the system and opening the way to truly personalised medicine. AI, machine learning, big data and automation are improving patient care pathways at every stage, from prevention through to treatment by way of diagnosis and quality of life.

Thanks to more accurate and frequent monitoring of the effects of drugs, or with the help of digital companions able to answer questions not put to the medical team at the time, patients will enjoy greater peace of mind about the care they receive, both at home and in hospital. These changes involve recording incredibly large and diverse amounts of data from multiple sources, as well as working with a wide array of traditional and new partners.

“In addition to developing innovative medicines, we want to find more ways to support patients throughout their journey. Our belief is that by deepening our understanding of diseases, and of patient expectations and experiences, we can further improve their quality of life. We also firmly believe that putting patients at the heart of the healthcare system is a collective endeavor that calls for the combined knowledge and skills of many partners. That is why I am pleased that the teams from AstraZeneca and Microsoft are joining forces and laying the foundations of a partnership with the AI Factory for Health,” says Iskra Reic, EVP Europe & Canada, AstraZeneca.

“Our aim for the health sector is to contribute towards creating a digital intelligence that will bring benefits to both healthcare professionals and patients. This collaboration with AstraZeneca is rooted in a determination to find new solutions that are less burdensome and more effective for patients, throughout the care pathway,” stresses Elena Bonfiglioli, Regional business leader health and lifesciences EMEA.

AI for Health

AI Factory for Health – Apply now
– Submit your application here – the application period runs from September 5th to October 31st.

Conditions for applying 
– You have developed a health-related solution based on AI technology and intended for patients, healthcare professionals, hospitals, businesses and organizations.
– You have already completed a fundraising round

The names of the six startups selected will be officially announced at the end of November.

Agnès Van de Walle, Leading OCP (One Commercial Partner) Entity Microsoft France: “We are very proud to be joining forces with AstraZeneca for the launch of this promotion focusing on healthcare – the program is rooted in our aim of accelerating the deployment of innovative projects by bringing AI within everyone’s reach. Through this program we are offering new entrepreneurs the chance to make their mark as key players in AI. The power of the Europe-wide Microsoft ecosystem will allow these emerging startups to flourish beyond their national boundaries and have a positive impact on the sector.”

Nabila Gadiri-Bernard, Innovation and Business Excellence Director, AstraZeneca France: “We are delighted to be partnering Microsoft on this startup accelerator program. France is now recognized throughout the world as a powerhouse of digital innovation, particularly in artificial intelligence. This collaboration meshes perfectly with our global strategy of development and our digital transformation in a rapidly changing ecosystem. Co-innovation projects such as this are important in improving patient quality of life and the patient experience.”

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