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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

Innovation in a Bigger Box

If healthcare companies are not as innovative as their shareholders would like, it’s not for want of trying – or even due to a lack of good ideas. PA Consulting Group’s Paul Earnshaw argues that by stretching the boundaries of your own ‘innovation box’ you can maximise chances of success

Most pharmaceutical and medical device companies have recognised innovation as a primary driver of profit and growth. Many of them are successful at generating ideas, and even at identifying those with the greatest potential – at least in theory. What defeats companies time and time again is managing new drugs or devices through to a successful launch, especially if they take the company in question outside its core comfort zone.

Companies need to find a way to take full and accurate account of the real-world – of the ‘innovation box’ in which they are operating. Ideas that work well on paper can fail when they come up against real-world constraints, such as capital cost, requirements for consistent quality and the need to secure regulatory approval.

The value of taking a real-world perspective is not only that it makes you aware of constraints; it can also liberate your creativity and enlarge your company’s innovation box. Pharmaceutical and medical device companies typically have a pessimistic idea of what is technically viable, and are too ready to discard ideas that strike them as ‘off the wall’. However, what is ‘off the wall’ to one company may be far less extraordinary to those from another sector.

By looking harder at the realworld context, and understanding constraints at a more fundamental level, companies may discover that some of their wackier ideas are actually viable. They may also be faster and less costly to deliver than others that on the surface are front runners and fall within the organisation’s comfort zone. So, how can you gauge the true limits of the innovation box in which you’re operating, so as to spot the healthcare ideas that can win in the real-world and maximise chances of success?


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Paul Earnshaw has a background in the development, specification and sourcing of new packaging and manufacturing processes. He is a Packaging and Materials Engineer with significant experience of implementing novel products across all areas of consumer products – ranging from the development of new delivery formats for pharmaceutical and dental products, through to innovative materials processing systems for food. Paul’s work on projects of this type has given him an in-depth understanding of how to translate consumer requirements into robust, cost-conscious engineering solutions which can be readily industrialised.
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