Innovation in life sciences and technologies is supported by public research carried out by centres of excellence structured around the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology (IPMC), the Mediterranean Centre for Molecular Medicine (C3M), the Institute of Biology Valrose (IBV), the Institute of Research on Cancer and Ageing in Nice (IRCAN) and the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA). This sector, at the forefront of oncology, central nervous system diseases, nutrition and metabolism, dermatology and eye disorders, is naturally open to e-health.  Not only does it benefit from the ICT expertise concentrated in Sophia Antipolis but it also exploits the opportunities of the Côte d'Azur's "silver economy" which is a rich ground for clinical studies and experiments.   

Research institutes and laboratories

From the creation of the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology (IPMC) to that of the Institute of Biology Valrose (IBV), the structure of fundamental public research has furthered therapeutic and medical innovations and strengthened the sectors of excellence. Each of these two institutes has around twenty teams comprised of the best researchers from the CNRS, INSERM and Nice Sophia Antipolis University. Their work, such as that on the brain dysfunctions involved in Alzheimer's (Professor Frédéric Checler) or even the pain relief properties of Black Mamba venom (Professor Michel Lazdunski) regularly wins awards.  Based at one of Nice's largest hospitals, the Mediterranean Centre for Molecular Medicine (C3M) is able to work closely with practitioners, particularly on its cancer projects. This prolific breeding ground has produced laboratories of excellence such as Signalife, which researches new drugs to treat cancer and neurological and cardiac disorders. The redeployment of services at one of France's largest university hospitals, the Pasteur Hospital in Nice, has resulted in new bodies such as the Fondation Claude Pompidou, designed to become a pilot centre in the treatment, research and prevention of Alzheimer's disease, the Institut de la Face et du Cou, a reference centre in oncology and neck and face surgery, and also the Institute of Research on Cancer and Ageing in Nice (IRCAN).   The Centre Antoine-Lacassagne is ranked 2nd in France and 3rd in the world for proton therapy and the treatment of choroidal melanomas. In 2014, the centre will install a 2nd generation cyclotron that capitalises on spectacular advances in computer science and nuclear physics to treat more forms of cancer. In October 2014, the teams at Nice University Hospital and Inserm (Nice Sophia Antipolis University) achieved a world first with a study on the early detection of lung cancer through a simple blood test. Finally, the Resources and Research Memory Centres (CMRR) tackles Alzheimer's disease and related pathologies through fundamental and clinical research, network management, treatment and education.

Startups & multinationals

The transfer of research results has created spin-off companies such as TxCell (INSERM), specialising in cellular immunotherapies for treating inflammatory diseases, Immunosearch, a specialist in in vitro toxicology tests for the cosmetics industry and even VenomeTech (IPMC), which explores venom compounds in order to develop new molecules in the fields of pain relief, cancer and central nervous system diseases. These start-ups foster and advance a business environment that boasts heavyweights such as Lundbeck, the Danish leader in central nervous system treatments,  which purchased Elaiapharm's production facility in Sophia Antipolis in 2009, Galderma, which built the world's largest dermatology R&D centre (500 people) in Sophia Antipolis, Virbac, the world's eighth largest animal health company, the Laboratoires Genévrier, a specialist in rheumatology, gynaecology and dermatology with the 1st European centre for cell culture therapy, and also Iris Pharma, a contract research organisation (CRO) specialising in preclinical and clinical ophthalmic research.

Professional networks

This biopharma community is federated through Eurobiomed, one of France's leading health clusters.

Eurobiomed, the Mediterranean biocluster
    • France's 2nd biocluster for fundamental and applied research with 6,000 life sciences researchers
    • 200 health industry members in the PACA and Languedoc-Roussillon regions, including 140 SMEs
    • 250 research laboratories
    • 428 accredited R&D projects and 117 projects financed for €106M (out of a total of €403M), involving 80 companies and 167 public laboratories
    • 4 priority areas:  in vitro diagnostic, medical imaging, medical devices, e-health, therapeutics

Source Eurobiomed 2012/2013.

Ophta-biotech, a collaborative platform of around forty laboratories, manufacturers, practitioners and patient associations, working on age-related eye diseases. The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) chose Sophia Antipolis as the location for its headquarters, creating both a training venue and conference centre for European cardiologists. The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) has consolidated its European functions for communication, web, membership management and scientific publications at its offices in Nice. [/spoiler] [H]Digital health and medical devices [/H] [spoiler title="Digital health and medical devices" subtitle="ICT expertise benefiting e-health"] Life sciences and information technologies prosper in Côte d'Azur's unique ecosystem, where three competitiveness clusters optimise the collaboration between research laboratories and innovative companies. 

  • Competitiveness clusters:  SCS (Secured Communicating Solutions), Eurobiomed (Life Sciences and Technologies), and Optitec (Optics & Photonics).
  • Research institutes: INRIA,  UNSA (COBTEK unit - Cognition – Behaviour – technology)
  • Other professional networks: CIU Santé, France Silver Eco, Innovation Alzheimer, Dream-it
  • ICT companies involved in e-health: IBM, Accenture, CISCO, Orange, Riviera Waves, Telemaq etc.
  • Biopharma companies involved in ICT applications:  Lundbeck, Galderma, Arkopharma, Genévrier.

Medical imaging

INRIA Sophia Antipolis Méditerranée supports the expertise in medical imaging and new diagnostic tools in Sophia Antipolis through its research, focused in part on medicine and computational biology and its technology platform for medical imaging. It has benefited from several of the spin-offs resulting from research projects, for example Focus Imaging (acquired by Median Technologies), which develops software solutions that optimise medical imaging information in oncology and therefore improve treatments, or Therapixel, specialising in interactive visualisation and medical image analysis solutions for the operating theatre.

Implants

There are several companies developing (surgical and orthopaedic) implants to treat disabilities, including Intégra Neuroscience, Orthomed/Summit Medical  and Neurelec, the specialist in cochlear implants which was purchased in 2013 by one of the sector's leading companies, the Danish William Demant.

Digital innovation

The creation of the Centre d’Innovation et Usages en Santé (CIU Santé - Centre for innovation and uses in health) is an innovative expert center of resources and skills, that offers industrial partners the ability to test, evaluate and experiment innovative solutions in hospitals, nursing homes and at home.  one of the positive results of the collaboration between Nice University Hospital and the global competitiveness cluster Secured Communicating Solutions (SCS). Digital innovation is the main strategic priority of France Silver Eco (ex-CNR Santé, French national reference centre for home care and independent living), based in Nice.  In 2014, alongside the CIU Santé and the Dream-it foundation (STIC), France Silvber Eco has moved into the Delvalle Open Innovation area, a place for experimenting with and demonstrating digital solutions for home health and independent living, currently being built in the Pasteur district in Nice. [/spoiler] [H]Independent living and ageing[/H] [spoiler title="Independent living and ageing" subtitle="A connected region pioneering the 'silver economy'"] Age-related diseases are generating new areas of investigation for both researchers and manufacturers who, given the population age structure on the Côte d'Azur and the high concentration of practitioners and researchers, discover a prime region for fundamental research, clinical trials and experiments. The Côte d'Azur boasts an ever-increasing expertise focused on various age-related pathologies including degenerative diseases (Alzheimer's), cancer, eye disorders, diabetes and heart disease. The Centre National de Référence santé à domicile & autonomie and the Centre d’Innovation et Usages en Santé (CIU), based in Nice, facilitate innovation by creating networks based on the expertise in health and independent living.