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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Never Confuse Movement With Action

In the book 'Science Business' Gary Pisano begins with the premise that biotechnology has not lived up to its promise. He has ideas and research and conclusions.

I argue that the performance of a science based business, like biotechnology, hinges on how well the sector is organized and managed to deal with the fundamental business problems created by science.

I argue that organizing and managing a cargo cult airport differently results in another cargo cult airport. The science hasn't produced enough drugs so they must shift the science work to someone else. It appears that science is a word that everyone thinks has one meaning. Medical "science", physical "science" cargo cult "science". It's the equivalent of assuming that "God" is understood by all and thus you start a church in Jerusalem with a Catholic priest. It's a good business model. It's a very religious town. You should make a lot of money in the old collection plate over there.

Gary Pisano does a little scientific research himself in his book. Academia and industry claim that industry scientists are the problem. The solution is to sack the staff and shift funding to university and biotech scientists. Gary points out however, that big pharma was no less successful at R&D than small biotech firms or academia.

Universities clearly began to see their science as a buiness. They aggressively patented and sought licensing deals, collaborated with venture capitalists to launch firms, and even began to mve downstream into drug development. Both private enterprises and universities were in the business of science.

So academia has been in the business for quite some time. If industry and academia were to conduct research into finding the successful formula for drug development, they would find that success is random. But then, they need an excuse and a corrective action. Randomness is not an option. Not succeeding is. In fact, it's the most likely outcome, but it is an unsatisfactory answer. No one is going to get at the big pharma money if they tell the leadership that there is no formula for success.

The current theme in industry and academia is to blame the structure of the old ways. Think, cargo cult airport structures such as the man in the watch tower with coconuts over his ears.

A businessman sitting in a room full of other businessmen makes the claim that the in-house science project aren't working. (The cargo planes aren't landing) He claims that this is a cancer and it must be cut out. The anatomy of this real life scenario can be followed by clicking here, then here. The scientists didn't have the freedom to pursue ideas like those in academia do!

A professor at a University sits in a room full of his peers and makes the claim that he is good at science projects that work. Regis Kelly director of the California Institute for Quantitative Biological Research
Academics like myself are great at discovery but are frequently embarrassingly ignorant of the useful applications of our discoveries.

Ahh, arrogance tempered with a dose of humility. He's a genius, but no one knows what to do about it. This is the premise of the alliance. Adacemia = genius Industry = know how. It's a winning formula. The plan is not random. The old ways were flawed, the problem has been identified, and the solution is in place.

Prof. Mark Pepys at the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London, commenting on an alliance with Gilead
We all agree that big pharma is useless at discovering new drugs and has to get its ideas from somewhere else.

Ahh, arrogance tempered with presumptuousness.

So where are we now? Industry believes that there might be some creative restrictions in the corporate world that have hindered "scientists" from innovation. The academia scientists believe that they are good at innovation but they require industries money and "know-how" to translate their genius into drugs. And they are doing it for the good of mankind. Again, Regis Kelly
Alliances with Pharma can bring the knowledge of society needs that we lack. was NOT about the money.

The businessmen are busy forming alliances with old white bearded professors. A call to action or just movement?

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