In Lyon, the nuggets of French Care

by Lara Rinaldi

What if, tomorrow, artificial intelligence helped to improve the management of serious illnesses? This is the project led by Manitty, a company born from the meeting of Philippe Blasquez and Paul-Antoine Libourel, researcher at the CNRS. The first worked for ten years in business development, for the French subsidiary of a biotechnology company, before deciding to become his own boss. “At the time, Paul-Antoine was developing a chip to study the behavior of penguins or the migratory movement of swallows, explains the entrepreneur. Beyond pure fundamental research, I thought that his work could have concrete applications in the field of health. »

Philippe Blasquez then joined the Executive Master of Polytechnique, where he proposed his project during group work. It was on this occasion that he collaborated with Pascal Garcin, himself an entrepreneur, who would become the third co-founder of Manitty, created in November 2021. Supported by the X incubator, the trio developed a tool, of low dimension, capable of analyzing brain data from both humans and animals. To this small box are connected, thanks to a cable, one or more sensors placed at the level of the organs. Via Bluetooth, the machine then transmits the data to an application installed on a smartphone.

“Generally, a lot of equipment is needed, especially in a hospital environment, to carry out these studies, specifies Philippe Blasquez. There, the data collected is examined by a platform that we have designed. It provides predictive information and diagnostic support using artificial intelligence. »

If, for the moment, Manitty is still in the development phase, the device is already tested on animals thanks to a partnership established with veterinary clinics. “Ultimately, we would like to offer our innovation to hospitals and city medicine, in order to improve remote patient monitoring and predict the evolution of serious or chronic diseases”, indicates the entrepreneur.

Helping children take their medication

For its part, Ludocare, founded in 2017 by Alexandra de la Fontaine, Thierry Basset and Elodie Loisel, wants to improve treatment uptake by patients with chronic diseases. “We want to help children learn about medication better, because good habits are learned from an early age,” explains Alexandra de la Fontaine.

For this, the company has imagined a “connected companion”, a small robot that tells the child when and how to take his treatment. “He guides him through playful and explanatory videos, explains the manager. By mimicry, he is invited to reproduce the gestures shown on the robot’s touch screen, before being rewarded with various multimedia content that adapts to his tastes. Programmable by parents, via a mobile application, the tool adapts to the dosage and the constraints of the family in order to establish a routine for medication.

Not yet marketed, the device is now being tested with volunteer families and is currently focusing on respiratory diseases such as asthma. Ludocare plans to offer its robot, entirely manufactured in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, via a subscription. “The objective is to educate the child so that he is then completely autonomous in taking medication”, underlines Alexandra Fontaine. To hope for commercialization and, for patients, partial coverage of the cost, the company must still conduct a clinical study. A long process that requires a financial investment: “We hope to raise funds soon,” says the leader.

A fund to promote investment in digital health

To support these companies specializing in digital health, Bpifrance launched “Autonomous patient” in 2018. Endowed today with 100 million euros, this fund has already made it possible to finance nine start-ups, including Nouveal. Originally from Lyon, the company, now majority-owned by La Poste, is at the origin of Covidom, a platform allowing the remote monitoring of patients with Covid-19.

“The crisis has accelerated needs, which is why, in July 2021, we welcomed new investors, in order to offer tickets for an average amount of between three and four million euros”, specifies Chahra Louafi, director of the Autonomous Patient Fund.

Through its funding and support, it hopes to succeed in reducing health expenditure. “We are seeing an increase in chronic diseases and an aging population. At the same time, the number of health professionals is decreasing. We have no choice: we have to find solutions and I think that digital health companies hold part of the answer,” says Chahra Louafi.

The same standard: French Care

To support them, Bpifrance has also created its incubator dedicated to the sector. Ludocare was part of the first promotion supported by the public investment bank. “In the field of health, the market is more regulated, so the business model cannot be that of a classic start-up, believes Alexandra de la Fontaine. Thanks to the incubator, we were able to be challenged on these aspects but also to meet health professionals and regulatory experts. »

In order to mobilize all players and create synergies, a movement was also born: French Care. Like French Tech, it brings together the various stakeholders in the ecosystem: health establishments, mutual insurance companies, patients, large and small companies… “This movement was born in the field, explains Chahra Louafi. Its objective is to bring territorial initiatives out of isolation, to cross-reference the visions of the various actors and to speak with one voice when dealing with the regulator, whether it is the French State or the European Union. »

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In Lyon, the nuggets of French Care

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