February 4, 2009

J&J testimonial to open innovation

In an op-ed article this week in the Boston Globe, Paul Stoffels of Johnson & Johnson wrote a testimonial to the value of open innovation. He concludes:
We believe open innovation will fuel the intellectual entrepreneurship and novel collaborations across institutions and geographies needed to develop solutions to some of the world's most critical healthcare challenges and to directly address patient needs in both developed and emerging economies. In turn, these solutions will provide the economic entrepreneurship that will help spur recovery and, when combined with health diplomacy, will ensure that innovation delivers solutions for generations to come.
He also made these points in an earlier interview with the WSJ.

I’m not clear what’s different. Big pharma has long used open innovation, particularly sourcing compounds or technologies form universities, and partnering with innovative biotech startups to enter new markets.

A friend in the pharma industry recommends the blog FierceBioResearcher, which appears to tie it all together. In commenting on the WSJ article as well as an earlier posting, blogger John Carroll notes that (to use my terms) big pharma is no longer able to use its R&D to create the separation it needs. Instead, as R&D has become more dispersed and commoditized, the pharma companies are sourcing technology from the cheapest possible locations.

To me, this sounds like the IT offshoring boom 10 years ago. Some of the offshoring failed and the work has come back, but overall, routine software engineering will never be concentrated within 40 miles of Palo Alto the way it once was.

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