Curiosity Across Company Lines

Creating Spaces to Accelerate Speed to Market

Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That’s not the place to become discouraged.

Thomas Edison

The ability to overcome failure has been shown time and again to underlie some of the greatest inventions of our time. In his book, Little Bets, author Peter Sims explains that truly curious, original thinkers use many small, experimental prototypes to test and evolve ideas. His research indicates that innovation is about making mistakes – inexpensive mistakes – and learning from them made along the way.

But how do those who are working in a start-up or an established biotech or pharmaceutical company get past stumbling blocks to put a product on the market?

  Etching of Thomas Edison   Etching of Thomas Edison

Collaboration is a Key Ingredient to Innovation Success

History shows that inventions invariably build on earlier findings that are recombined and improved upon.

“Most of the things we use every day are inventions that no single human being could ever design within her lifetime,” biologist Joe Henrich, of the University of British Columbia, stated in an article for Scientific American. “Rather than the product of individual innovators, these inventions can be thought of as the product of our societies. Innovations rely on individuals learning from others – in that way, human society functions like a collective brain.”

In the world of pharmaceutical research, scientists are currently tackling some of the world’s most complex health problems, creating treatment options for diseases for which no effective therapies were previously available. These include developing vaccines for emerging health threats, custom gene therapies for cancer patients, and giving sufferers of chronic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, new options to improve their quality of life.

Recognizing that solving these problems requires collaboration and knowledge sharing, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, recently launched a network of “collaborative labs” to help partners troubleshoot and identify how to most quickly, safely, and efficiently bring their proof-of-concept, biopharmaceutical products to market. At these M Lab™ Collaboration Centers, in 10 locations and counting across the world, our scientists provide innovators who want to bring a new drug to market with technical expertise, education, and training. They help troubleshoot production issues and provide access to world class equipment. M Lab™ Collaboration Centers support customers who are looking for the technical experience and expertise of our scientists and technicians on finding solutions to the challenges of their individual biopharmaceutical processes.

We want to create an environment where we live the concept of collaboration.

Daniel Stamm

Head of Global Process Solutions Commercial, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Changing the physical space in which one innovates allows curiosity to flow and new ideas to develop. These M Lab™ Collaboration Centers also serve as creativity-sparking environments. The trend in life sciences is to integrate the advanced scientific methods with the physical spaces that catalyze curiosity and increase interaction among researchers. Scientists seek this combination to promote idea generation and to bring life-saving drugs and therapies to market faster and safer.

This seems to be true across sectors. New research from Nielsen has found that two in three professionals working in the Consumer Packaged Goods rank collaboration among the top three factors for innovation success. Moreover, when the company examined the role of collaboration in the concept development phase of innovation, they found that teams of six or more performed significantly better than those comprised of just two people. These findings support the concept of our M Lab™ Collaboration Centers – underscoring the importance of collaboration within research teams and outside of research teams in order to leverage unique and diverse perspectives to work around roadblocks in drug development.

How can you get around innovation roadblocks in your life? Try engaging with new or different colleagues to gain other perspectives. Or take a step back from the project and re-approach from a different angle. If you explore ideas from a new, curious angle, you might find innovative solutions to past problems.

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