Sanofi and Evotec have now concluded negotiations over a five-year strategic alliance giving the German group 250 million Euros, including more than 40 million Euros upfront in cash.

The move will see Evotec acquire Sanofi’s troubled operations in Toulouse, to support collaborative research in drug discovery from screening to identification of preclinical candidates with the firm’s biotech, venture capital and academic partners. 

Evotec said it will provide a broad range of long-term drug discovery services to Sanofi over the next five years, centred on the core small-molecule discovery platforms in Toulouse, and will take over management of the French drugmaker’s global screening compound library.

And, in a “first-in class, ground-breaking 'open innovation initiative’,” both groups will combine their libraries and offer them for screening to Evotec’s business partners, creating “one of the largest and most valuable sources of starting points for drug discovery with approx. 1,700,000 compounds available to screen”.

Elsewhere, Evotec and Sanofi will jointly push forward a portfolio of primarily cancer-related projects - including five advanced, preclinical projects and further discovery-stage assets - to Investigational New Drug status or other value inflection points before partnering them.

Werner Lanthaler, Evotec’s chief executive, said the transaction “supports our long-term strategic growth plans” and “brings significant value to [our] shareholders without the need for dilutive financing”, while Elias Zerhouni, President Global R&D for Sanofi, said it will “create a field of opportunities for our employees, while contributing to the vitality of the local ecosystem”.