Innovation Requires More Than “More of the Same”

I’m thrilled that Collaborative Drug Discovery has chosen to renew its annual membership with us. Of course, I’d like to hear more about why CDD ultimately decided to renew given the reservations expressed in this blog entry about Pistoia being “more of the same” (Hint: Barry, this is your cue to tell us more in a comment below!).

Let me say up front that we firmly believe as Barry does: That it’s through the ability to share key information services and facilitate effective collaboration that we ALL will increase our chances of successfully innovating. That’s what is going to bring success to our industry and to the future lives of patients everywhere.

Reading Barry’s honest post made me reflect on the reasons the Pistoia Alliance was formed, but in the context of the pace of change we’ve seen since we met in that restaurant in 2007. Pistoia’s founders knew that to do something different, we had to bring a broad cross section of the industry together—including life science companies; vendors in informatics, content, and services; and academics. We couldn’t just target one of these groups and expect anything to change. That’s because, perhaps more than any other industry, we are all in this together, with “this” being a constantly evolving ecosystem. Just look at all the mergers and takeovers and exciting new companies that have emerged in 2011 alone—and how the players shift between constituencies, working today for a vendor, tomorrow for a pharma, the next day for a start-up. None of us can go it alone. Our success or failure depends on how we blend the different skills we have—and that means collaborating.

It’s easy to talk about what’s wrong with drug discovery (I also recommend In the Pipeline’s summary and of course, we’ve talked about it). What’s harder is fixing it. The innovation we all want has to happen in the face of many other challenges. But it’s not going to happen if we continue to do things behind our own firewalls following the same, familiar business models.

We’re having some success at changing the model. The sequence services project has already fostered some unexpected collaborations, and we look forward to seeing more of that in the phase 2 pilots. But the change we seek won’t happen in one go. And it won’t happen if our members don’t think outside their comfort zones about how to make innovative collaboration work.

CDD has laid down a gauntlet. How are you going to respond?

Posted in Pistoia Alliance Blog.

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