... how best to innovate, and how to do it more often and efficiently, is top of mind for executives at many large corporations.
Constructing Innovation Supply Chains for the Pharmaceutical Industry - Noubar B. Afeyan, Venture Capitalist at Flagship Ventures
The innovators should be working closely with the acquirers from the early days, getting regular feedback. The pharma company can provide what Afeyan calls "Darwinian pressure" to force the startup to run the key experiments needed to prove the value of their idea, rather than simply guessing what the pharma companies want to see.
A Biotech Innovation Supply Chain: Reality or Fantasy? - Luke Timmerman, Bio/pharma Cheerleader, Xconomy
Drug companies often lament that the firms from which they are sourcing innovations do not perform clinical trials to their specifications, forcing them to repeat the work. Nevertheless, they are reticent about providing such specifications in advance – even when innovators request them – perhaps to protect their market position or internal efforts. Moreover, the same companies compete directly in the supply of innovative technologies. The result is a broken supply chain.
Fixing the Innovation Supply Chain - David Berry, partner at Flagship Ventures
While each thought-leader has ideas for fixing this broken system, they have each left out the notion that they themselves are in the position of their predecessors who had the option of hiring Elion or Prasher. Rather they focus on the innovations, they successes that come from people they have yet to find. If the innovators they speak of continue to fit in the usual mold, PhD, Ivy League school... you fail to acknowledge the biases that get in the way. Gertrude was a woman. Prasher went off to work for fools. How can the leadership wade into a pool of unconventional candidates and find the people who are creative?
Formal public education began in the early 1800s to create workers for the industrial age. Currently, our education system continues to churn out potential workers, innovators, and the geniuses who put it all together. We now have a good assessment of how the system is working. Each company is a mirror of the education system. Often PhDs will serve as the "dissertation committee" that judges the work of the B.Sc. lab staff, just as they were judged as grad students. They all thrive for a consensual approval. Yet the consensual approval, that leads to publications in grad school, needs to be put to the test of developing technology. In other words, innovation is suppose to be the end product, not a published paper that no one will read. It is thus the education process that tends to teach that the end product is a piece of paper, be it a diploma or a published paper. Innovation is different. The education is a tool for the individual to use to apply to research. Innovation requires a highly engaged workforce, free to be creative, constantly learning new techniques and skills. Research is different than those who work on a conveyor belt, churning out a product they hope will be accepted by executives and venture capitalists.
They say in computer science, a degree above a bachelors is not important. The education for the work and the innovation comes on the job. Education only provides you with the tools to get started. It's up to the individual to know how to use those tools. That is currently not the case in biotech/pharma. The leaders are not using any scientific tools to spot the talent. In the case of Gertrude Elion, that gap in science employment, post graduation, would have kept her from obtaining a job in 2013 just as surely as being a female kept her from a job in 1940. We have many rules and ideas in selecting who gets to shine and who gets to drive courtesy vans. We have HR gals scanning resumes with software tools. They aren't working. It's time we study what has worked and see if we can find a new way of learning how to innovate. In time the innovators will teach the VCs and executives how to spot talent.