Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

I study people, technology, and the worlds they make

The failure of biotech

I read Gary Pisano’s Harvard Business Review article, “Can Science Be a Business?” today. It’s pretty mind-blowing. Its basic contention is that “biotech has not delivered on its promise because the industry’s structure–much of it borrowed from Silicon Valley–is flawed.” (114) Strong stuff.

To those of us who live here, the “Silicon Valley model” (whatever we happen to mean by that) sometimes is thrown about as a kind of silver bullet that can be profitably applied to any industry; but I think Pisano’s article offers some valuable clues to understanding the conditions that are necessary for it– or for other kinds of highly networked, open models of innovation– to work.

Combined with last month’s conference in Finland on culture and innovation, where I gave a talk about the often-overlooked relationships between innovation and manufacturing (a particularly rich creator of productive cultural resources), I think I’m getting close to a better understanding of when networked, outsourced, or open innovation models work, and when they don’t.

[To the tune of The Beatles, “A Hard Day’s Night,” from the album “Anthology 1 (Disc 2)”.]

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1 Comment

  1. Which issue of HBR is Pisano’s article in?

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