Having joined the Pistoia Alliance as Executive Director Operations just one week earlier, last week’s annual conference in New York was very much in at the deep end for me. In many respects I was there with the same intention as the majority of the other delegates: to learn more about what the Alliance is, what it has been doing, and what it plans to do next.
The conference took a slightly different format to previous years. The first day was open to the public and started by allowing delegates to hear about innovation-driven projects undertaken by organisations in related fields, such as NYC Bio, Quintiles, the NYC Clinical Data Research Network, the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health, and Deloittes. The idea here was to learn from experiences of others and use their findings as a springboard to the generation of new ideas for Pistoia-led activity.
Supporting these external speakers in the morning session were a selection of existing Pistoia Alliance members presenting projects from their own organisations that demonstrated significant innovation in life sciences R&D. BMS, ChemAxon, Infosys, Oracle and J&J all contributed a brief presentation each that shone a light on exactly the kind of pre-competitive internal innovations that Pistoia aims to encourage its members to share with each other so that the whole industry may benefit. Whether these idea-sharing presentations lead to a light bulb moment in one other member’s head or a fully blown Pistoia-led project that reaches out to the entire community, it will have helped.
The afternoon saw a review of current Pistoia projects and those currently in early stages of discussion, followed by round-table discussions around a number of subjects. For my part I led a discussion on generating new project ideas that resulted in at least two new project suggestions. As Pistoia is rolling out its new IP3 platform for managing the lifecycle of project ideas we will enter these new projects into it in due course.
Once in IP3 all projects are open for public discussion by the wider community, allowing Pistoia to gauge opinion and suitability for progression into funded activities. These new ideas will be joined by all existing project ideas and a selection of historic projects to set it all in context. We hope to have this IP3 system in production and fully populated by mid-Summer.
The second day, restricted to members only, saw a more in-depth discussion of Pistoia’s ongoing remit, goals, and specific projects – particularly HELM and CSCS which are both completing their initial phase and have delivered some impressive results. As part of this day a short session was held on the idea of sharing internally developed software directly between members via a kind of in-house bartering market, which is a concept I am particularly interested in and keen to see delivered.
During a core members meeting in the afternoon, at least ten further project ideas were developed and lined up for submission to IP3. This wealth of new project ideas – resulting in a pipeline almost triple the size it was before the event – is a significant step forward for Pistoia as it continues to work on its Next Chapter Initiative.
The Alliance is keen to scale up on the projects it delivers and the audience it can reach, and the injection of a large number of new ideas – and a significant increase in the support of these projects via the direct involvement of members at the meeting – is a big step forward. It is now my job to ensure that when these projects reach the production stage they are delivered on time, to budget, and that their deliverables meet the deservedly high expectations of success.