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Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain Technology
Merck Granted U.S. Patent for novel combination




Merck, a science and technology company, announced that it has been granted Patent No. US 10,193,695 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The patent relates to the formation of ‘crypto-objects’, a novel security procedure linking Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology.

“This new patent continues to build on momentum gained through earlier patents. Our heritage in the security materials business makes our company an expert in the sector. Merck is now spearheading the development of blockchain technologies that focus on a combination of physical objects and digital security. This will have implications for all industries that depend on reliable product authenticity, such as safety-critical supply chains in the pharma and food sector.”

Isabel De Paoli, Chief Strategy Officer at Merck

The new technology uses machine learning to link physical objects to a blockchain through their own unique identifiers or ‘fingerprints‘. Any unique feature can be used as a fingerprint, such as a chemical signature, DNA, or image patterns. The patented technology paves the way for established identification processes (for example barcode scanners or mass spectrometry) to be combined with blockchain and machine-learning technologies to provide a novel, integrated security approach and thus certainty and defense to businesses.

To date, Machine-to-Machine readability has been the standard approach to connecting objects to digital supply chain workflows. Now, the new concept covered by Patent No. US 10,193,695 makes Machine-to-Object readability possible by linking AI and blockchain technology. This latest patent follows Patent Nos. US 10,002,362 and US 10,002,277, which include the integration of physical materials into the digital world, the protection of the corresponding hardware and most notably, the enhancement of existing security functions.

The need for enhanced supply chain integrity through new technologies has become increasingly important, as highlighted by a recent report issued by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The World Health Organization estimates that over 50% of medicines purchased on illegal websites are fake. Not only healthcare, but also other industries face similar challenges from the growing counterfeit trade. For example, nearly one in five mobile phones shipped internationally is fake.

The patented technology is being developed by an innovation project in the Merck Innovation Center, which aims to grow ideas into viable new businesses beyond the current scope of the company’s activities. In accordance with a company builder approach, it provides dedicated support, clear governance and decision making in a protected start-up-like environment to efficiently grow and scale innovation projects. By offering such a protected innovation ecosystem, the Innovation Center builds the bridge between the agility of a start-up and the more complex processes of an established corporate group.


WeHealth by Servier and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The emergence of connected homecare



WeHealth by Servier, Servier Group’s Digital Health business unit, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), announced today a collaboration agreement to define new market paradigms of home technologies.

WeHealth and the AgeLab will interact together through the AgeLab C3 Connected Home Logistics Consortium, along with other industry leaders, to conduct collaborative research to envision the development of home services to tackle the growing challenge of connectivity, convenience and care to improve individual health and well-being in elderly people.

“This partnership is an unprecedented opportunity to synergize our forces for advancing healthcare” said Dr. David Guez, General Director of WeHealth by Servier. “This follows our open innovation approach, which we firmly believe is an efficient way to accelerate the development and commercialization of solutions that will benefit patients and healthcare professionals.”

Through its research, which aims to understand the impact of global demographic change on consumer behavior, AgeLab MIT believes that tomorrow’s home will no longer simply be a place to live, but will become a platform of services and experiences provided by an interconnected ecosystem of technologies.

“Recent efforts to address challenges brought by the aging of the population have looked at technology as a possible solution”, said Dr. Joseph Coughlin, Principal investigator of the C3 Consortium Program. “The introduction of ambient intelligence throughout the time, empowered by machine learning algorithms, is especially well positioned to motivate healthy behavior and proactively reduce the probability of catastrophic event such as missed doses of medication and falls”.

In a context of increasing chronic diseases and an aging population, the development of home health care is a significant issue. E-Health makes it possible to provide innovative and effective solutions that meet the evolving needs of patients. It facilitates patient‘s distance care and assistance and care pathway in terms of prevention, compliance and homecare services.

E-Health also reflects a change in the behavior of patients who are increasingly involved in their health and treatment plans by being better informed – via specialized websites and mobile health – and better self/ remotely monitored, thanks to the emergence on the market of connected devices (i.e. glucose meter, portable ECG, treatment reminders, sensors) and affordable home diagnostics tests.

Data analytics is the common denominator to all digital technologies. The solutions designed as part of the partnership between WeHealth by Servier and AgeLab MIT will meet with new health needs and requirements in a secured manner to protect and respect patient confidentiality. The innovations will also ensure data interoperability between the different solutions on the market and broader health data (i.e. Electronic Medical Records), ultimately breaking down siloes of data while improving access data by patients and healthcare professionals.

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Chemicals News Pharmaceuticals Plant Construction, Engineering & Components

Bilfinger 2018
Strong order book driving profitable revenue growth



Industrial services provider Bilfinger continued to grow in the financial year 2018. Relevant key figures improved across all business segments, meeting the forecasts and in some instances even outperforming them. The Strategy 2020 stabilization phase has been completed, the set milestones have been reached: Orders received, revenue and earnings developed positively, while the Group’s liquidity and return on capital employed were at levels above those of the previous year.

“We delivered on our 2020 strategy and on our commitments to both internal and external stakeholders. I am particularly pleased with the successful conclusion of the DPA and our Monitor’s Certification that Bilfinger is on an irreversible course towards compliance self-sufficiency. I think we can confidently say that 2018 was a year of achievement for Bilfinger.”

Tom Blades, CEO Bilfinger

The business environment continued to be robust in our six focus industries, particularly in Chemicals & Petrochem, Oil & Gas and Pharma & Biopharma. Demand for engineering and maintenance services continued to build on top of growing mechanical construction opportunities in the United States.

Strengthening the sense of purpose

Bilfinger continues to fine tune and adopt its 2-4-6 Strategy to better serve customers and drive margin development. Its engineering resources delivering both project management consulting and maintenance engineering have now been fully integrated into the regions to enhance Bilfingers end-to-end EMC capabilities. Consequently, the divisions are renamed E&M effective January 1, 2019. The technology companies delivering Energy & Emissions, Biopharma and Automation products remain grouped together and serve Bilfinger customers globally from their European manufacturing base. Together they form the Technologies division also effective January 1, 2019.

Outlook 2019

In connection with the described adjustment to its organizational structure, Bilfinger is also adjusting its reporting segments as of the beginning of 2019. The forecasts and statements related to the expected development of the Group are made within the scope of these reporting structures.

In the Technologies segment, a significant increase in revenue (2018: €499 million) is expected as a result of growth in order backlog. This is subject to continued and anticipated strong orders received in the course of the year. Bilfinger expects stable revenue development in the Engineering & Maintenance Europe segment (2018: €2,732 million). At Engineering & Maintenance International, the Group sees positive momentum in the markets and therefore expects significant revenue growth (2018: €763 million).

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FDA accepts sBLA
Treatment of Advanced Renal Cell Carcinoma



Merck and Pfizer Inc. announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted for Priority Review the supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA) for Bavencio (avelumab) in combination with Inlyta (axitinib)* for patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC). The application has been given a target action date in June 2019.

“The combination of Bavencio with Inlyta builds on Pfizer’s significant heritage in advancing standards of care for patients with advanced RCC and has the potential to make a meaningful impact for the lives of patients. We look forward to working with the FDA to bring this potential new treatment option to patients as quickly as possible.”

Chris Boshoff, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Development Officer, Oncology, Pfizer Global Product Development

“Our alliance is focused on the development of potential new treatment options for patients with cancers that have high unmet medical needs, including the broad spectrum of people living with advanced RCC,” said Luciano Rossetti, M.D., Executive Vice President, Head of Global Research & Development at the Biopharma business of Merck. “This regulatory milestone, which closely follows the acceptance of our application in Japan, represents an important step forward for science and for patients.”

The submission is based on data from the pivotal Phase III Javelin Renal 101 trial, which were presented in a Presidential Symposium at the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2018 Congress in Munich. In December 2017, the FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation for Bavencio in combination with Inlyta for treatment-naïve patients with advanced RCC.

Despite available therapies, the outlook for patients with advanced RCC remains poor.1 Approximately 20% to 30% of patients are first diagnosed at the metastatic stage.2 The five-year survival rate for patients with metastatic RCC is approximately 12%.

The clinical development program for avelumab, known as Javelin, involves at least 30 clinical programs and more than 9,000 patients evaluated across more than 15 different tumor types. In addition to RCC, these tumor types include breast, gastric/gastro-esophageal junction, and head and neck cancers, Merkel cell carcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer, and urothelial carcinoma.

*The combination of Bavencio and Inlyta is under clinical investigation for advanced RCC, and there is no guarantee this combination will be approved for advanced RCC by any health authority worldwide. In the US, Inlyta is approved as monotherapy for the treatment of advanced RCC after failure of one prior systemic therapy. Inlyta is also approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for use in the EU in adult patients with advanced RCC after failure of prior treatment with Sutent (sunitinib) or a cytokine.

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