Top 3 reasons good science becomes bad business.

Posted by on Jun 16, 2011 in Blog | 0 comments

Top 3 reasons good science becomes bad business.
Most scientific work is inherently good, especially in the Life Sciences.  Our understanding of our physical selves and our physical environment is being expanded and arguably, that helps us all be more complete beings.   It also creates a powerfully altruistic and virtuous cycle, whereby our increased understanding provides benefit to ourselves and to others and in turn spurs others on to continue the quest. Science and the search for scientific truths speaks to our highest selves but it also calls for practical focus and patience.A sobering reality of Science and Scientific innovation is that it requires money.  It also requires more than money – it requires non-scientific processes to ensure stable commercialization and ultimate success. Although some of us would like to believe that good or even great Science should, by virtue of its inherent goodness, be poised for commercial success.  The reality is that this is most certainly not the case.In my experience there are several reasons why good science fails commercially.   I’ll highlight just the three main ones here.

1.  The Over/Under problem. There is often an over-reliance on the science and an under-appreciation for the myriad steps involved in making the product market-ready. For smaller Biotech businesses this means that the early, sustained and mission-critical work to establish viable partnerships with larger firms who can bring needed resources to the fight for brand equity and market penetration lags way behind the science and is often an after-thought.

2. Nature makes great Science. People make bad business. In smaller Biotech firms there is often a skills – deficit that must be offset. One way to do this is to first recognize that this problem exists then to identify areas where outsourced resources could help to fill the skills gap.  This skills gap is pervasive and serious because it may make the business less attractive to capital in-flows, leads to marginal process management and weakens the overall competitiveness of the business.

3. Better Questions Win. Organizations that are innovative have a much broader focus than just product innovation.  They are innovative in their DNA – They have a culture of asking great questions.  What business are we really in?  How do we optimize our outsourced relationships so that it becomes a strength and not a liability?  Should we stratify our brand image to account for geographic variabilities?  Are these variablities statistically valid and market altering?

Surely, there are other reasons why Biotech firms with very good scientific products find it difficult to breakthrough and claim the proverbial gold at the end of the Rainbow.   There is a tendency to focus almost exclusively on the need to attract money and this is true but, there are other reasons some of which are actually more important than money. Biotech firms need to recognize that sometimes the reason they may not be able to get money has less to do with the science and more to do with the structure of their business, the skill and competence of their people and the level of innovative dynamism within their organization.

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