Bridging the Atlantic, this free and virtual German Startup Conference 2021 connects Germany’s startups preparing to enter the U.S. market with entrepreneurial and innovation hubs in Silicon Valley and throughout the United States.
Join me on October 26, 2021 – I look forward to your questions during the panel discussion of the Silicon Valley section!
The German Startup Conference 2021 / Silicon Valley section
Bridging the Atlantic, this free and virtual German Startup Conference 2021 connects Germany’s startups preparing to enter the U.S. market with entrepreneurial and innovation hubs in Silicon Valley and throughout the United States.
Join me on October 26, 2021 – I look forward to your questions during the panel discussion of the Silicon Valley section! Take a look at the speaker lineup (link).
On April 20-21, 2016, Singularity University, the most innovative and forward-looking institution, has chosen to host their SingularityU Germany Summit in Berlin—one of the most vibrant cities in the world. SingularityU Germany Summit is a local Chapter and community organization of Singularity University. It is one of the largest two-day events in Europe aimed at bringing awareness about exponential technologies and their impact on business and policy to thought leaders and executives from breakthrough companies.
What can you expect at SingularityU Germany Summit?
Leading experts from the global high-tech community will present the latest trends and cutting-edge developments in Mobility, Organization, Manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence, Computing, Robotics, 3D Printing, Machine Learning and Design Thinking. Together we strive to inspire and empower European leaders and influencers in using exponential technologies to solve today’s most pressing issues. SingularityU Germany Summit is an ideal platform to network for both alumni as well as first time attendees, leaders, government representatives, entrepreneurs, investors, NGOs.
500 attendees ranging from CEOs to young innovators from across the globe are expected to attend the event. Together we will explore issues such as: How can technological evolution be transformed into a sustainable and value-based growth for any industry? What ethical standards and responsibilities do global leaders have to account for?
This year‘s event focuses on a very special aspect of the Digital Transformation – the cross-industry collaboration and exchange.
How can digitalization be implemented to make a difference in every patient’s life? What best practices from other industries can be transferred to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries? These and many more questions we will answer at this year’s event.
You can expect a great atmosphere for networking as well as exciting discussions on:
What is the role of the Digital Transformation for Pharma?
Importance of the collaboration between Life Sciences & ICT: current changes in ICT.
Don’t miss this opportunity! Save the date and stay tuned for more information!
After exploring German innovation barriers to digital transformation. As a follow-up, let’s look at an example of a successful industry already known for high-tech. And which example would be more moving than the iconic German automotive industry?
Automotive is the largest industrial sector in Germany. Vehicles and parts make up some 20% of total German industry revenue with auto sales and exports worth 368 billion euros ($411 billion) in 2014. Car-making is a German strong suit with luxury cars being the most profitable segment.
Electric Vehicles? – “Nein, Danke!”
Disruptive players emerged with electric car concepts for years. They were generally ignored by the established car makers despite the high eco-consciousness of German society in general. The new technology was not considered a threat nor as profitable as the existing businesses. So electrical vehicles were disregarded so not to disrupt or cannibalize the traditional business with combustion engine vehicles.
The influence of the car industry remains strong and has an outspoken lobby also in Germany. This contributes to failing the German government’s announced goal of leading the electric mobility market with “one million electric vehicles on the road by 2020” since only 8,522 new electrical vehicles were registered in German in 2014 (up from under 3,000 in 2012).
Innovation Catch-up by the Automotive Industry
The game changed when disruptive niche player Tesla Motors started cutting into the highly profitable luxury car segment with its high-end and high-tech electric vehicles. Tesla also receives outstanding customer service reviews in key markets such as the United States. Suddenly German car builders scramble to catch up to protect their stakes: everyone wants to offer at least one electric vehicle in their luxury car portfolio as a ‘Tesla Killer.’ Finally, negligent or halfhearted governmental support of the program just changed course by offering temporary tax breaks and other incentives.
Growing out of the Niche
Now, disruptive innovation may not make cars obsolete. We still want to get from A to B, so incrementally improved cars (better safety, quality components, etc.) will remain in demand and customers will continue to pay a premium for luxury models. Take a closer look at Tesla though to see the difference of their bigger and bolder view: the Model S versions, for example, are constructed all the same except for the model sticker on the back.
The true battlefield is no longer the physical car alone. From the steering unit to the breaking-system Tesla’s are built from pre-assembled, tried-and-tested components from quality manufacturers; including parts from some German hidden champions such as Stabilus (liftgate gas spring) and ZF Lenksysteme (steering mechanism).
Software is Pivotal
Nonetheless, it’s the software configuration in the Model S that makes the difference from regulating the available battery capacity (extended range) to other features (acceleration) that become available to its passengers. Tesla added ‘Autopilot’ functionality and a self-parking feature to its fleet just recently – simply via remote software update. Voila!
Reaching beyond the individual vehicle the software running the car became the key to future mobility. The question becomes who will own the car operating system of the future? Chances are it’s the exponential silicon players from sunny California who are best positioned, experienced and deeply understand both, digital integration and exponential innovation.
Mercedes meets the software threat and opportunity by aiming to control this pivotal technology, which may otherwise be seized by more avid digital players such as Google, Microsoft or even Tesla. Mercedes made some progress when it just announced its new E-class vehicles connecting and sharing relevant information with each other.
Out for the kill?
German luxury car-makers proudly announce their future ‘Tesla Killers’ playing catch-up with high-end electric cars of their own, such as Audi’s Q7 E-TRON Quattro, BMW’s i5 or Porsche’s performance vehicle Mission E (the latter two not available before 2019). Tesla hardware is even coming under attack with future competition getting ready; among them Silicon Valley’ Atieva and Tesla clones from China.
In true sports car fashion, Porsche’s marketing highlights 600hp for 0-to-60mph acceleration in under 3.5 seconds. Tesla already achieves this mark today. So where is the actual ‘kill’?
The Mobility Arena
The real question aims at the next step: where will the drivers of the new Audi’s, BMW’s and Porsche’s charge their batteries on the road?
Looking at future mobility as an arena rather than just vehicles, Tesla’s venture also crossed other industries such as the critical battery business in partnership with Panasonic. In addition, Tesla offers a wide-cast net of ‘SuperCharger’ power-stations free of charge for its customers at many highway rest-stops and gas-stations positioned to allow Tesla drivers to reach most areas of the continental U.S. already today.
Fueling the Future
Here, Tesla secured the first-mover advantage in securing the precious real-estate needed at busy rest-stops. In the long run, it appears doubtful that rest-stops will grant additional dedicated slots with proprietary pumps to every car-maker to recharge their line of vehicles.
So the German car manufacturers may be forced to cut a deal with Tesla adopting the Tesla technology and paying for using Tesla’s high-speed pump space on-the-go in the future. Tesla even announced it will not enforce patent protection for anyone who, in good faith, wants to use the Tesla technology, which may smoothen over the adoption by other car-makers.
Looking into the crystal ball, the automotive industry is not just about introducing more electric vehicles but is morphs to become a new mobility arena as Tesla is demonstrating. Being still at the early stage of an exponential growth curve, Teslas are certainly not cheap to buy – yet.
Looking at electric vehicles simply as sophisticated hardware components, however, we may just enter a scenario in the not-too-distant future that reminds of Amazon’s successful strategy: giving the Kindle eReader (hardware) devices away cheap. Amazon is not interested in hardware but the content, the vast library of eBooks (software) fueling the customers’ demand, which makes all the difference and holds the keys to a proprietary, digital kingdom with recurring high revenues.
German innovation gets trapped in the very mentality focusing on building quality products ‘Made in Germany’ that the country got well known for. Holding on to vertical product improvement, however, obstructs crossing industry barriers, convergence, developing game-changing business models, and coming up with breakthrough innovations with potential for exponential growth and returns.
Germany – Land of the ‘Hidden Champions’
A recent research study of the Centre for European Economic Research confirmed Germany leading by far with 1,550 hidden champions. Companies are commonly considered a hidden champion if they are no. 1 or 2 on the world market, make less than EUR 1.5b revenue and their name is not overly well unknown to the general public.
Note that mid-size companies comprise 80%(!) of German industry and resemble the backbone of the German economy altogether. According to the Berlin School of Economics and Law, 90% are focused on B2B.
See if you recognize a few examples of hidden champions that are leading global players:
Dixi / ToiToi (portable toilets)
EBM-Papst (motor and fan manufacturer)
Enercon (wind energy)
Krones (bottling machines)
Recaro (car and airplane seats)
Trumpf (laser cutters)
Inside the Vertical Tunnel View
Among the 1.500+ market leaders, only two German companies are leading software companies (Software AG and SAP). The vast majority focuses on more tangible product innovation leaving this digital industry somewhat isolated, underdeveloped and vulnerable like an economy’s Achilles’ Heel.
You get a good sense of a vertical bias in product innovation, when you read German open job postings for innovation lead position of sorts: As an innovator in an automotive company, you require a solid background in engine engineering, for example, or as an innovation leader in a chemical consumer goods company, you will not be hired without in-depth knowledge of adhesives, for example. It becomes painfully obvious how the vertical product innovation fosters a mindset of inbred solutions and can miss out on transformative opportunities beyond the own domain, bridging and converging industries.
Point being: Innovators are usually hired from within a vertical industry. This leaves little room for a creative influx from the outside. Since meaningful innovation ‘happens’ at the crossroads of disciplines in a horizontal cross-pollination of different industries and domains. This inflexible German practice lends itself to incremental improvement of products rather than disruptive transformation of businesses, entire industries or even across industry arenas. Within a vertical mindset, ecosystem cross-pollination withers and innovators are less suited, prepared, capable, or enabled to disrupt.
Digital Transformation “Made in Silicon Valley”
When it comes to digital transformation, German companies got disrupted and steamrolled mostly by large-scale digital disruptors coming out of the United States from either California or the East coast technology ecosystems with huge global impact and a different approach:
The world’s largest taxi service owns no taxis (Uber)
The most popular media owner creates no content (Facebook)
The largest movie house owns no cinemas (Netflix)
The largest accommodation provider owns no real-estate (Airbnb)
The largest software vendors don’t write apps (Apple, Google) and so on.
The above examples differ from traditional products not only by bold out-of-the-box thinking but also by paying close attention to the customer. Their business models rest firmly in the digital world with a software business and an internet backbone.
Uber and Airbnb offer digital platforms – that’s it, no tangible goods. Nonetheless, they shake up the established industries of transportation and hospitality in ways unheard of. They also reap exponential returns by creating new digital arenas that generate highest recurring revenue in the digital space.
Missing the Digital Train?
Back in Germany, its 1,500+ hidden champions flourish in a robust economy, so Germany must be doing something right overall with a vertical focus set on tangible quality products within industries. Good money is still made in Germany by holding a steady course of vertical product improvement.
This practice also goes hand-in-hand in hand with protecting and not challenging enough the traditional sales-driven business models to avoid cannibalizing the status quo for next-generation innovations. It reminds of the Kodak-Eastman story having invented the first digital camera but rejecting the technology in order to protect the business around the existing analog film products – and we all know what happened to Kodak.
A Digital Transformation Divide
Truly putting the customer in the center and embracing digital business requires a radical transformation of the existing business and its operations. The critical interface between IT and Marketing, for example, often is not well developed in Germany, where traditional companies lack understanding of the digital potential and struggle with developing new, digital business models in time.
It is not a question but painfully obvious that -with the current mindset and strategy- Germany misses the train on digital transformation. While the world moves online, many companies in Germany failed or simply ignored the emerging technological opportunities to develop digital business models consequently, in a structured fashion and timely.
In fact, German companies practically ‘gave up’ across entire industries including media, travel, and retail. In a recent wake-up call, the German government asked companies and industries to focus on digital transformation in a widely proclaimed initiative called “Industrie 4.0” ‑ a race to catch up internationally. And catching up is much needed: the narrow German ‘inside focus’ presents a vulnerability to be exploited by foreign disruptive players. The gap widens steadily as the competitors advance fast, build up huge resources and become increasingly experienced to develop and apply digital transformation with new business models.
Pessimism with an Insurance Mindset
The high level of disruption and uncertainty does not come easily to a less flexible German mindset: Having experienced hardship many times during the not-all-that-distant history, Germans tend to seek and value predictability and safety. Anxiety and fear of the unknown forms an undercurrent in the mindset of German society, which is expressed by seeking refuge in insurance policies to prepare for unknown future events.
As an example, not only do Germans over-insure their daily lives with a myriad of insurances, Germany also holds on to one of the largest amounts of hospital beds and bunkers per capita. You find more hospital capacity in the Berlin-area alone than in all of their neighboring country, The Netherlands!
In general, start-up funding is not as easy to come by as in the U.S., for example, where venture funding is a more common practice. When I arrived in Germany a year ago, I came across a serious government program that ‘supported’ a new start-up or entrepreneurs with grants tied to a projected positive return-on-investment (ROI) within the first year. Now, building a profitable business from scratch within in year is an unrealistic goal. Consequently, the desperate entrepreneur in need of funding would have to submit a bogus business plan right off the bat, which is a set-up for disappointment down the road. So, either the government program is not meant serious (unlikely) or is designed by people not knowing the first thing about starting a business (likely).
Techno-Fear and Over-regulation
Overall, the German mindset tends to be more critical regarding new and unfamiliar technology. Seeking to avoid risk comes with a tendency to ‘over-regulate’ in the sense of applying regulations just because it is possible to regulate rather than because it is necessary to come up with regulation.
Since a long time, Germany has the strictest data privacy laws (that recently translated into GDPR, Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation). The domestic law protects the individual by granting them the right to control their personal data online and offline. These regulations are rooted in the country’s dark experiences during its Nazi-past but are also is a reflection of the outspoken suspicion among the broader population towards digital data technologies and their application. Thus, Germans tend to be more reluctant to share personal data on social media out of fear of exposure and losing control.
The protective (domestic) legislation means well but can only be effective in a closed system, which the (global) internet is not. In a digital world, international boundaries are artificial. Given the nature and proliferation of digital technology and interconnectivity of people around the globe, keeping up the aspired high standards proves increasingly cumbersome if not impossible.
The German island can hardly be defended effectively over time. It may protect the citizens from some harm locally but in return also isolates them and denies them access to the benefits of a technology that ever progresses globally.
Losing the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Given a rather pessimistic Germany mindset that is reluctant to fully immerse in the digital world, digital-resistant citizens appear poorly prepared for ‘moonshot’ visions, embracing the opportunities of Big Data Analytics or the vast potential of the Internet-of-Things (IoT).
The present German ‘generation of heirs’ inherits the wealth created by their parents’ generation during the famous post-WWII decades known as the economic “Wirtschaftswunder” boom. Very much in contrast to the U.S. or Asia, many Germans do not share the venturing spirit anymore. They show reluctance to trying out something new such as building a business as an entrepreneur for several reasons:
Firstly, Germans tend to prefer a detailed plan before actively exploring an opportunity and strictly sticking to the plan during implementation. Besides the favorable element of thorough planning, this approach also reflects a deeper fear of failure and seeking a sense of security and predictability. Deviating from the plan is often interpreted as a failure.
But then, which plan ever is perfect and stands the test of a dynamic reality? Sadly, the debate then quickly tends to turn to finding a culprit when things go sour rather than making adjustments to keep moving on.
Secondly, German hesitation and even a good amount of pessimism roots in the stigma of a business failure, which seems to stick more in German society than in the United States. More than 9 out of 10 start-ups fail, but when a startup fails in the U.S this does not automatically translate into a personal failure of the leader. It is much more seen as a learning experience, while a German CEO gets easily branded a loser.
Surrounded by the ‘insurance thinking’ mentioned earlier it will be hard for the former CEO finding support for a future business or even employment in Germany after a venture failed. In consequence, the German CEO is more motivated to beat a dead horse rather than cutting the losses and move on.
Summary – Brakes on Digital Innovation in Germany
For all these reasons, visions tend to be smaller in Germany. They are more designed to control risk than seizing exponential business opportunities. Thinking too small, not disruptive enough and too focused within an industry prohibits to compete with the digital global players that emerged with exponential business models, such as the Googles, Apples, Amazons, Airbnbs, Ubers, and so on out there.
What keeps the brakes on the German innovation machine is the inbred mindset and vertical tunnel vision with a focus more on products instead of customers, and the risk-avoidance and fear of applying digital technology to its full potential. It traps many German companies in a self-limiting disadvantage compared to American or Asian competitors, which prove more venturous, flexible and generally optimistic.
The U.S., in particular, entrepreneurs come not only with a more flexible and optimistic mindset but can also tap into unique startup eco-systems in place (Silicon Valley, Boston, and NYC areas primarily) with easy access to bright minds, cross-pollination and venture capital.
There remains a demand for physical, quality products in the future, such as the machinery, tools or cars we value today as Made in Germany, so the 1,500+ hidden champions look into a bright future. Their reluctance to embrace the digital age, however, and transform to embrace new digital business models, however, may steadily push them to the sidelines as industries and arenas change beyond their input or control.
The pharmaceutical industry struggles with the fundamental changes of the healthcare systems worldwide. For many reasons, the traditional mindset and business models of the past are failing today. New approaches are needed for innovation “beyond the pill” to stay profitable and ahead of competitors.
But how to change a large organization bottom up and from within?
Why? The pharmaceutical industry struggles with the fundamental changes of the healthcare systems worldwide. For many reasons, the traditional mindset and the business models of the past are failing. New approaches are needed for innovation “beyond the pill” to stay profitable and ahead of competitors.
But how to change a large organization bottom up and from within?
This session offers you a unique birds-eye and worms-eye view on pharma innovation and its shortcomings under the current paradigm, before diving into real-life case studies of intrapreneuring, disruptive transformation and strategic innovations within and beyond a Global FORTUNE 500 pharma company.
Join this masterclass and learn on how to bring intrapreneuring and transformation to life in a large pharma company.
This workshop-based online conference (see how an online conference works) serves as an interactive platform designed to assist industry professionals involved in project and portfolio management in acquiring practical skills and knowledge.
Beginning in 2012, Boehringer Ingelheim launched a global initiative to encourage more intrapreneurial spirit of employees and offer them a platform that enables generating and implementing disruptive innovations across the organization to either decrease expenditures or increase revenue. With a focus on developing and executing game changing ideas, part of this initiative is focused on providing associate-level executives with the tools they need to evaluate their ideas and best position them when pitching them to more senior management.
Frame your idea for a successful pitch
Create a compelling business case that resonates with senior management
Break through the red tape: navigating around internal barriers and finding allies
ePharma is the incubator for cultivating a diverse and innovative digital marketing plan to help you move your commercial initiatives forward.
Augment your expertise, dissect current biopharma trends, and uncover new opportunities at ePharma. Get the tools to build robust, cost efficient marketing campaigns over three days of tactical and strategic learning.
New for 2015:
Discover how innovations such as wearables, mHealth apps and nano technology impact health and patient care and what the best plays are for an integrated marketing campaign.
Learn how to pitch your entrepreneur product to a venture capitalist. Highlights include a checklist for sellers to address the needs of users.
Hear out-of-industry case studies from retail and publishing highlighting the success of using digital and traditional mediums.
Come to discuss my talk about “Changing employee mindset to boost collaboration and engagement for extreme business results”
How to overcome innovation hurdles in large organizations
How to build an entrepreneurial culture within your company to respond to change quickly
Measuring success beyond money – behavior change for best practices and boosting ROI
Workshop at 3:30pm on March 6, 2015
And take my Intrapreneuring Workshop “Building an innovation framework to design, launch and execute business projects”
The workshop participants experience the role of an intrapreneur to bring a project to life using disruptive methods and collaboration.
Innovation Barriers and Assessment
Becoming an Intrapreneur
Resistance, Sponsor and Team
Prototyping, Pitching and Investor Insights
About the Conference
Pharma companies stand on a cross-road for a few years now. They can choose to stick to their old ways that will probably slowly kill their business or successfully adapt to the reality of continuously shrinking pipelines and growing obstacles.
The 5th Annual Pharma PPM Toolbox will provide you with fresh ideas and solutions from experts who work hard to keep up with uncompromising market demands.
This video addresses the question: How can the pharmaceutical industry reskill representatives to be knowledgeable consultants to physicians?
Today, sales expertise is not enough. The pharmaceutical representative needs to be a broker of information. Physicians now have very limited time – and dictate when they can meet with representatives, from whom they need comprehensive information that they can pass along to their increasingly educated patients.
In this video, Jo Ann Saitta, Chief Digital Officer of the CDM Group, Stephan Klaschka, Innovation and Healthcare Consultant, and moderator, Richie Etwaru, Chief Digital Officer at Cegedim, examine this shift and the challenges pharmaceutical companies may face in properly retraining their people. These challenges include: adopting a culture of learning agility; integrating silos of information; having the ability to serve up dynamic content; and training representatives to utilize technologies that will maximize their brief but demanding visits with physicians.
Use this linkto watch all 10 videos in the series on YouTube directly – enjoy!
10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015 – Communication moving to Collaboration
10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015 – Content moving to Context
10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015 – Care moving to Cure
10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015 – Compliance moving to Culture
10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015 – Supply Chains moving to Supply Constellations
10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015 – Customization moving to Configuration
10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015 – Customer moving to Consumer
10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015 – Calls moving to Consults
Jo Ann Saitta
10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015 – Cloud moving to Crowd
10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015- Charity moving to Cause
Read this insightful “Taking the entrepreneurial approach” interview conducted by Eyeforpharma on the impact of hierarchy and how executive mindset inhibits adapting to the rapidly changing commercial landscape. It outlines how “intrapreneurs” and internal “angel investors” can get large, mature organizations moving again!
Meant to raise questions and serving as a learning opportunity for graduate students in academic program around the globe, this case study lifts the corporate curtain a bit to show how innovation through intrapreneuring really happens and decision points along the way.
The newly appointed director of Innovation Management & Strategy at Boehringer Ingelheim, a German-based multinational pharmaceutical company, is finding his way forward in his firm’s new, first-of-its-kind role, which is central to the company’s growth rejuvenation strategy. His job has a threefold mandate: to build internal networks, to establish internal structures and to leverage internal ideas. His biggest challenge, however, may be transforming the organization’s DNA. The blockbuster business model that has characterized the company for decades is no longer appropriate. Instead, the firm needs to develop healthcare products available to end users over the counter. This shift in strategy requires innovative changes in distribution, delivery and customer focus. To accomplish this goal, he needs to institutionalize innovation so that it becomes sustainable. But in doing so, he must also identify the metrics for assessing progress. The case provides an opportunity for students to step into the shoes of an innovation leader, to develop an innovation roadmap for the organization in the face of uncertainty and to understand how to engage in innovation leadership at various levels of a global enterprise.
This case has two key objectives. First, this case provides students an opportunity to grapple with the difficult decisions associated with innovation in an uncertain environment. Second, this case highlights that anyone has the ability to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset and to lead innovation. The case divides the attributes of an innovation leader into five components: observing, questioning, experimenting, networking and associating. It shows the real-life experiences of a manager doing seemingly routine activities, who evolved into a leader who transformed the DNA of a global enterprise. The case also provides a template of the tasks, responsibilities and value-added changes as an individual moves progressively within an enterprise from an operations manager to a senior manager to an innovation leader. This case can be used either toward the beginning or toward the end of any course that addresses innovation and creative thinking in a large organization. At the beginning of a course, it illustrates the challenges of acting in the face of uncertainty in a large organization. At the end of a course, the case provides an opportunity for students to apply what they have learned about innovation, entrepreneurial thinking and innovation leadership.
One juror, for example, believes the Boehringer Ingelheim School for Intrapreneurs adds value beyond the pill to patients and customers: “Great program that ensures that the company keeps up to date and a competitive edge. I also like that everybody has the opportunity to contribute and participate.”
The winners will be announced on April 7th during the upcoming eyeforpharma Philadelphia 2015 conference (from April 7-8th, 2015, Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia, PA.), so join the conference and stay connected via Twitter at #efpPhilly
About the Awards
The eyeforpharma Philadelphia Awards recognize those in the pharmaceutical industry who are driving pharma forwards not just with higher short-term profits, but with better customer innovation, value and outcomes leading to longer-term success.
eyeforpharma’s mission is to make the pharmaceutical industry more open and valued, which means these awards are a literal translation of why we exist. It is our responsibility to shine a light on where pharma does well, to inspire others into similar or better action.
When we talk about disruptive innovation, we can easily agree that going from the days of dim candle light and sooty oil lamps to electric light was one of these breakthrough innovations, right? Its icon, the lightbulb serves as our symbol for a great idea today.
Who invented the lightbulb?
When you ask around “who invented the lightbulb?” the answer “Thomas Edison” first comes to mind – and the answer is wrong! Truth is that we can give credit closer to 20(!) inventors of the lightbulb! – How so?
Thomas Edison patented the first practical and commercially viable incandescent lightbulb in 1878 and a revised design in 1879. In addition, he offered the first efficient electricity supply system for households and businesses, which laid the foundation and cleared the path for mass-producing light bulbs in 1880. His design was an evolution from previous, inferior designs and enabled by improved technology.
Sitting in the dark without Edison?
No worries, we would not stay sitting in the dark. It appears safe to say that even if Thomas Edison was never born, the practical incandescent lightbulb would have been developed around the same time – by someone else.
Looking back in history, Humphrey Davy invented electric light in 1802; more than 75 years before Edison. His “arc light” was unsuitable for mainstream application though it found specialty uses even today. Many more designs for incandescent light and lightbulbs were developed by several inventors, but neither were they practical nor suitable beyond demonstration stage. Prominently, Joseph W. Swan built a working prototype of a “light bulb” in 1850 – well before Edison.
Edison had access to improved technology such as a better vacuum pump for his breakthrough design. This technology was not available to previous inventors. Edison also developed an efficient and economical way to distribute electricity when earlier designs drained batteries quickly. (A nice example, by the way, on how a product can go a long way when bundled with a complementing service.)
On the flip-side, Edison knew of his limitation too. He made carbonized Japanese bamboo glow as filament between two electrodes knowing that carbonized Tungsten was the superior material. However, the technology was not available at the time to produce a thin Tungsten thread. We had to wait for William D. Coolidge to produce the Tungsten filament for General Electric in 1910, which is still the preferred material to illuminate our modern incandescent lightbulbs today.
This situation is typical and comparable to many big ideas that entrepreneurs work on today. There is much competition among entrepreneurs, so every good idea usually has a handful of teams working on it independently and head-to-head at the same time. Thus, it is highly likely that, if not Edison, another inventor would have come up with the lightbulb design we are so familiar with today.
R&D as a Legacy
Perhaps, the even more impactful and lasting heritage of Thomas Edison are not his inventions, useful as they are. His products such as the lightbulb, phonograph, quadruplex telegraph, mimeograph, etc., have been replaced over time by more advanced technology.
Nonetheless, Edison has changed the way we discover concertedly today. Until his time, inventors matched the stereotypical image of a lonely genius experimenting and inventing in their lair burning the midnight oil over some ambitious idea. Edison established the first research and development (R&D) organization in his famous Menlo Park lab, where a large number of researchers worked together in an orchestrated way to find solutions to specific problems coordinated strategically and systematically concerted. Edison has industrialized research!
Until today every research-driven company or organization worldwide follows in Edison’s footsteps! What an impressive legacy!
Disruptive innovations tend to have their origin in incremental steps and competition among inventors. First working individually and now increasingly in teams or even distributed R&D organizations across country borders.
A key success factor here is building trust and incentives within the team in order for all individual contributors to share information and findings freely.
The broader, cross-functional approach to research helps to identify ideas and technologies from other disciplines that can serve as stepping stones. Edison used a better vacuum pump, which made his design possible. Later, the capability to manufacture a thin Tungsten wire allowed General Electric to take the lightbulb the next level.
As the saying goes, “innovation happens at the intersections of disciplines.” The development of the lightbulb serves as a nice example proving it to hold true once again. Thus, innovation benefits by drawing from advances in other disciplines.
So, is disruptive innovation a myth?
Back to our original question, the story of the lightbulb is a great example for a breakthrough innovation with vast ramifications that disrupted and shaped the we live and work around the globe.
It can, however, not be seen as just one big and isolated scientific step but rather a series of many little steps in combination insights from other disciplines including manufacturing, economics and marketing leading to broad adoption that changed the world.
Only when it all comes together you have a disruptive innovation like Edison’s famous design. And it was still not the end. The journey continued to evolve with a Tungsten wire and later fluorescence, halogen and LED lights.
In this light, every disruption seems as yet another incremental step, doesn’t it?
Meet me at the Intrapreneurship Conference 2014at the “Kennispoort”-building of the Eindhoven University of Technology, John F. Kennedylaan 2, 5612 AB Eindhoven, The Netherlands, from December 10-12, 2014! Contact me you are interested to attend, as I may be able to get you a discounted ticket!
Intrapreneurship is the most powerful engine for growth. With innovation being priority #1, how are you implementing and leveraging innovation from within?
Now being organized for the fourth time, the Intrapreneurship Conference 2014 is the premier global event for Corporate Innovation Managers, Intrapreneurs, Business Managers, HR-Managers and Innovation Consultants. This is not just another conference on innovation, where you will be listening to motivational speakers all day. We intentionally keep the number of available seats at a level that enables you to really connect with everyone.
Discuss the best and next practices in implementing and leveraging intrapreneurship. We have carefully curated a program for you that includes all relevant topics in the field of intrapreneurship, and invited experienced intrapreneurs and experts to co-create an impactful learning experience for you.
You will leave the conference with a clear action plan and practical tools for the next step in implementing intrapreneurship. Plus, you will meet like-minded people to connect, share and collaborate with – as most Intrapreneurs are the lone mavericks in the corporate jungle.
The AlphaSights Knowledge Summit – Accessing Critical Business Knowledge Safely and Securely in the 21st Century
at the Harvard Club of New York City, 27 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036
In today’s digitally connected economy, competitive advantage no longer comes from ‘hard’ assets. It’s human assets – knowledge and talent – that give companies and investors an edge.
Specialist knowledge can be accessed, shared and recombined quicker than ever before, driving innovation, interactivity and wealth creation. But knowledge lies at the heart of the next billion-dollar company as much as it lies at the heart of billion-dollar trade-secret lawsuits or insider trading convictions. Leading professionals and their employers find themselves in the crosshairs of litigious competitors and ambitious prosecutors more often than ever before.
At this Knowledge Summit, acclaimed thought-leaders, top lawyers, former federal prosecutors and leading practitioners will explore and discuss current best-practice in the acquisition and protection of knowledge in today’s globally connected economy.
Why attend? – Other than just meeting me 🙂
Every organization needs to access external knowledge to succeed. But what type of knowledge delivers a competitive edge, and how can it be accessed both safely and efficiently?
Network with and learn from fellow senior legal, compliance and commercial executives from the world’s leading investment and advisory firms at the Harvard Club in New York City. Over a half-day event, the Summit will discuss:
Best-practice policies and procedures for effective knowledge acquisition. What systems and practices do the top investment funds and leading lawyers recommend?
Where can public and private investors trip up when seeking alpha? Lessons from Operation Perfect Hedge and recent private equity litigation.
Why the exchange of knowledge has always driven human progress, and what the ramifications of a totally interconnected global marketplace might be.
Redrawing the battle lines for talent and knowledge as employees move ever more freely between firms – should smart employers embrace or be wary of the ‘free-agent’ economy?
CURE and Yale, in collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim, presents “Patients and Big Data in Healthcare: Deriving Value and Accelerating Innovation.” In an increasingly digital age, healthcare stakeholders can access significant amounts of data and knowledge using various platforms. Critically, this “big data,” represents a vast quantity of complex and diverse information. While payers, providers, healthcare experts and the pharmaceutical industry have the capability to analyze this data to gain insight, this information can be overwhelming to patients. This BioHaven event, moderated by Richard Foster, has convened a panel of experts to explore the topic of “big data,” the role of the patient in data analytics, the role of payers and what actionable data represents. Further discussion will explore the state of the art, including discussing national hospital systems using big data and local ones in CT and at Yale. Finally, the discussion will conclude with discussion about effectively incorporating big data into operations and where the field is headed.
Special kudos to my valued colleague Faye Lindsay, who was instrumental in pulling this event together!
Some of the topics the moderator and panelists will consider:
Defining and Exploring the topic
Tell us what “big data” means to you and why it is important. Give us one example which illustrates the best use of big data to date.
What is the role of the patient in data analytics? Does it benefit them? Do they naturally do it? How error prone are the data they provide directly?
What is the role of the payer in all of this. Can they get the data they need to better set rates? Will “big data” help or hurt the payers?
What is actionable data? What are the three major areas where we are making progress?
State of the Art
Where is the best state of the art in using data to improve outcomes in the US? How do we know that is true?
What hospital systems or MCOs are most advanced?
How are we doing in CT compared to other states? How do we know?
What is the state of the art in healthcare info tech/big data in the US. Where? Why? What do we need to do to catch up?
Will all this measurement result in intense, and from time time, unproductive rivalries between docs, or hospital systems?
How can the providers use “big data” and not put at risk the effectiveness of current medical care delivery processes which have takes years to define and perfect?
Big Data and the bottom 5%
We know we spend $1.35 T on 5% of the population. Do we know who they are and how we can best treat them. How much can we expect to reduce the cost, or improve the quality of the health care delivered to these patients?
Big Data and Quality
Integrating Big Data into Operations, effectively
What is coming?
Who is controlling the pace of advance in Big Data these days – Academia (who), the Payers (who?), the providers (who?) the Feds (who and who in HHS/CMS?) What about the role of the National Cancer Hospitals. Or other specialized (by disease/condition) providers (e.g. DaVita)
Richard N. Foster, PhD, Emeritus Director, McKinsey and Co; Lecturer, Yale School of Management.
Dr. Foster is an emeritus director of McKinsey & Company, Inc. where he was a Director and Senior Partner. While at McKinsey he founded several practices including the healthcare practice and the private equity practices, the technology practice and innovation practice. From 1995 to 1998 he led McKinsey’s worldwide knowledge development.
At Yale, Dr. Foster teaches “Managing In Times of Rapid Change” and serves as the Executive in Residence at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. Dr. Foster’s research interests are in the relationships between capital formation, innovation, and regulation. Dr. Foster has written two best-selling books: Innovation: The Attacker’s Advantage (1986) and Creative Destruction (2001), both of which were cited as among the “ten best books of the year” when they were published by the Harvard Business Review.
Dr. Foster’s work has appeared in Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times as well as several dozen articles in research and popular journals. Dr. Foster was recognized as one of their ten “Masters of Innovation” in the past century. He was the external leader of the Concil on Foreign Relations Study Group on Technological Innovation and Economic Performance which led to the publication of Technological Innovation Economic Performance (2001, Princeton University Press).
Harlan Krumholz, MD, Harold H. Hines Jr. Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) and Professor of Investigative Medicine and of Public Health (Health Policy); Co-Director, Clinical Scholars Program; Director, Yale-New Haven Hospital Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation.
Dr. Krumholz’s research focuses on improving patient outcomes, health system performance and population health. His work with health care companies has led to new models of transparency and data sharing. His work with the U.S. government has led to the development of a portfolio of national, publicly reported measures of hospital performance. These measures also became part of several provisions of the health reform bill. He is currently working with leaders in China on government-funded efforts to establish a national research and performance improvement network.
Dr. Krumholz is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine, the Association of American Physicians, and the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He is a Distinguished Scientist of the American Heart Association. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the American College of Cardiology, the Board of Directors of the American Board of Internal Medicine and the Board of Governors of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.
Rishi Bhalerao, MBA, Director of PatientsLikeMe, a free patient network and real-time health research platform.
At PatientsLikeMe Rishi manages major relationships with industry partners. Prior to joining PatientsLikeMe, Rishi spent several years as a management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and more recently, as an innovation consultant, at a firm started by Prof. Clay Christensen of the Harvard Business School. He earned an MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and also holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Engineering.
Director of Business Analytics at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals (BI)and leads a team of analysts conducting analysis across all BI’s portfolio and communicating findings and strategic insights to internal stakeholders (Marketing, Sales, Managed Markets, Sr. Management etc.).
The key deliverables include using various data sources to measure performance, build promotional mix optimization modeling, behavior segmentation, portfolio optimization, etc. Prior to BI, You was a consultant at ZS Associates and then held various management roles in the pharmaceutical industry including Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Novartis.
Mike Matteo is chief growth officer at Optum, where he is responsible for creating and enabling growth across the company. Matteo focuses on the needs and opportunities of Optum’s customers and how the company can deliver creative, innovative solutions that meet their objectives. Prior to bringing his passion for modernizing the health care system to Optum in 2012, Matteo served for four years as chief executive officer of UnitedHealthcare National Accounts, where he expanded the company’s industry-leading position in the large-employer marketplace. Prior to becoming CEO, Matteo led business development efforts for UnitedHealthcare National Accounts, where previously he worked in product development and was instrumental in designing and launching the company’s first consumer-driven product innovations. He joined UnitedHealth Group in 1997 as a strategic account executive, helping many of the company’s largest employer clients meet their health care objectives.
Before joining UnitedHealth Group, Matteo was with Physicians Health Services, where he served the needs of major clients as an underwriting director and senior account executive. He began his career serving in multiple roles with Traveler’s Insurance Companies. Matteo graduated magna cum laude with honors from the College of the Holy Cross, and participated in the Columbia University Executive Management Program. He is on the boards of the MetroHartford Alliance, Hartford YMCA, and Connecticut Science Center, and served as chairperson of the Greater Hartford Arts Council Capital Campaign.
Why is this a billion dollar question? – The traditional business model of the pharmaceutical industry is broken. The focus shifts to incentivize patient-centric outcomes, prevention and behavior change in the global battle against a mounting wave of chronic diseases such as diabetes. In search for a new business “beyond the pill” the pharmaceutical industry joins other stakeholders in the healthcare system to align and pull in this same direction. First data-driven results are highly anticipated – well, here they are, so don’t miss this milestone event!
The awards will be held at an inspiring new venue, 7 World Trade Center, and include the opportunity to explore some of the top corporate innovations in North America, network with innovation leaders, and hear from our guest speaker from Virgin Galactic.
The awards recognize and celebrate the achievements of individuals and teams who are working within large companies to deliver game changing innovation and growth.