A two-fold ambition for Evolucare: international expansion and artificial intelligence
Interview with Elie Le Guilcher, President of the group
At the beginning of the year, you announced that you raised 26 million euros and acquired a company. How do these two events demonstrate your ambitions for growth?
Elie le Guilcher: Our group will see about 30 million euros in turnover this year after this capital raising with Essling Expansion and a banking pool, and the acquisition of Axapa, a software specialized in the social care sector and, more specifically, care for the disabled. Indeed, Essling Expansion joined us with the goal of supporting robust growth. Growth that is both internal, with a projection of 40% over the next five years, and external, through acquisitions in France and, most importantly, abroad.
What are the priorities for your development strategy?
In light of our specificities and the limits of the French market, we must look for growth avenues beyond our borders. In France, the biggest publisher of health informatics brought in 65 million euros; worldwide, the biggest brought in 4 billion! Therefore, our objective is to make 15% of our turnover in exports this year and to reach 50% in five years. But we are also continuing to develop our product portfolio, thanks to our artificial intelligence projects.
Are the groundbreaking innovation projects at Evolucare Labs starting to yield results?
We have chosen to increase our involvement in artificial intelligence in three areas: imaging, patient monitoring and resource optimisation. In each of these areas, we are working with Evolucare Labs in consortia composed of industrial players, universities, engineering schools and hospitals. Starting in 2019, we are going to launch the first innovative solution on the market —the result of three years of artificial intelligence research—for automated diabetic retinopathy screening, OphtAI. We are then planning to roll out solutions developed as part of two other research projects: Smart Angel, for patient monitoring, in 2021, and RIHDO, for oncology decision support, in 2022. These screening, diagnosis and monitoring tools will contribute to the group’s medium-term growth. We have also created partnerships to facilitate algorithm integration and access for professionals, radiologists and neurologists to these analysis tools through our imaging platforms.
What is the role of these innovations in your international projects?
If we look at the example of diabetic retinopathy, the OphtAI tool is universal. Retinas are analysed the same way in every country, and diabetes is a global disease that currently affects 420 million people and its prevalence is increasing by 20% every year. Now that we have the interpretation console, issues are arising because we need to find distribution channels. Research is well supported in France, but export sales receive much less support even though they are very expensive to fund. For example, a presence in the United States costs at least one million dollars a year.
Which markets are you targeting? What is your strategy for establishing a presence?
We are targeting Canada, South America and China. In markets that are already equipped in health informatics, i.e. all western markets, the only solution is to set up locally. In other markets, with the exception of China, we are going to create a network of partners, because it’s possible to go through a distributor. We are currently analysing all potential targets—publishers, distributors, integrators—in as many countries as possible, Mexico, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and even in Africa. Fortunately, we can leverage two favourable factors: French medicine has an undeniable reputation around the entire world and French informatics are very highly rated.