“This partnership was an obvious choice, since we share the same objectives,”Alice de Queylard, chief operating officer at the Paris Saclay Cancer Cluster (PSCC) says. Lucia Robert, CEO of MATWIN, goes so far as to refer to “synergy in the fight against cancer – here 1 and 1 actually make 3! ” MATWIN and the PSCC announced their partnership in mid-May. The synergy between them is clear.
The PSCC, which won the “France 2030” biocluster program in December 2022, is aiming for a vast array of actions focused on innovation in oncology. This world-class center of excellence is in its first year. Its purpose is to bring together all public and private operators involved in the fight against cancer – academic researchers, care establishments, laboratories, startups and big pharma. “Our approach is not to reinvent what already exists but to make use of current strengths and fill in the gaps,” says Ms. de Queylard. This is why it is a good idea to work with MATWIN, which over the last 14 years has employed a range of initiatives to support, train and connect innovative project developers. It is also one of the elements of the PSCC, which offers scientific programs based on excellent technology platforms and a federated data network.
“MATWIN was a visionary fourteen years ago when it launched the first French initiative to bring research and industry ecosystems closer together in order to innovate in the fight against cancer! MATWIN will be an essential ally in the ongoing structuring of the Paris Saclay Cancer Cluster, of which Gustave Roussy is one of the five founders,” says Professor Fabrice Barlesi, Gustave Roussy CEO and MATWIN chairperson.
As a subsidiary of Unicancer (the federation that unites the 18 French Comprehensive Cancer Centers), MATWIN already has an acceleration program which has been used to help over 260 candidates, and which it offers to innovative anti-cancer projects. In addition to receiving coaching and advice on how to structure their project, these candidates have access to experts and a network, and may be presented to an international board of big pharma companies. “Up until now the program was above all interested in projects that offer therapeutic and diagnostic applications, we had little involvement in digital technology and AI due to a lack of expertise. By joining forces with the PSCC, this expertise will now be available to MATWIN and the businesses we support,” Lucia Robert says.
Each year, MATWIN receives around twenty applications from France and Europe. Pooling networks and databases is expected to cause this figure to increase from 2024, although neither structure is targeting “a very large number of projects, rather they are searching to select and support the most promising ones”.
“Unicancer is already a committed PSCC partner. We are therefore delighted that our subsidiary MATWIN is to be associated with the development of this European cancer cluster and that the two organizations will mutually benefit from their obvious complementarity to better serve patients’ interests,” says Professor Jean-Yves Blay, chairperson of Unicancer.
“If a project knocks on either of our doors, we will be in a position to work together, and based on the project’s specific requirements we will be able to direct it towards the right people much more quickly,” says Lucia Robert. “With, over time, the aim of providing a coherent, shared offering,” adds Alice de Queylard.
Each year, MATWIN also organizes the MEET2WIN European Oncology Partnering Convention, which brought together at its eighth edition in Bordeaux, on May 11 and 12, over 300 European attendees interested in cancer innovation, with more than 1,000 face-to-face meetings to facilitate collaborations within the ecosystem (manufacturers, entrepreneurs, researchers, clinicians, investors, support structures, patient associations, etc.).
“France has everything it requires to become a leader in the fight against cancer. The aim of the PSCC is to become a world-class cluster of excellence like that in Kendall Square in Boston, in order to increase industrial capacity in oncology in France. We are delighted to be able to benefit from MATWIN’s experience and network,” Professor Eric Vivier, chairperson of the PSCC.
MATWIN and the PSCC will also be together at OncoSTART. This 13-member consortium, launched in 2021, aims to foster and accelerate entrepreneurial innovation in the fight against cancer. The first OncoSTART Summer School dedicated to entrepreneurship in oncology will take place in Paris from September 18 to 22.