What is Innovation? Here is One Man's Idea

What is Innovation? Here is One Man's Idea

03.20.12 | By Kate Connors

Recently, I spent a few moments watching an interview with author and consultant Simon Sinek, in which he defines innovation and "the application of technology to solve human problems."

I was reminded of it a few moments ago when looking at a description of some of the 36 new molecular entities approved by FDA in 2011. Talk about solving human problems: two new personalized medicines for cancer, specifically lung cancer and melanoma; eleven new medicines for rare diseases; the first new drug for lupus since 1955, which uses a novel approach to treatment; and two first-in-class medicines for Hepatitis C.

And the products themselves aren't the only innovations - many of them were developed by researchers using innovative methods and science.

In essence, solving human problems is what our researchers work towards on a daily basis. Unfortunately, in this business, researchers are surrounded by myriad challenges, by setbacks, by failures and by the knowledge that even a new treatment, while a massive step in the right direction, still isn't a cure.

But the work is worth doing. Our companies don't just solve the problem of finding solutions to unmet medical needs - though that's the primary goal.The work they do can ultimately provide many other solutions to many other problems: medical advances can help control rising healthcare costs by providing treatment options that help patients avoid pricey procedures and hospitalizations. And in a similar vein, they can help us control the future burden of disease, with Alzheimer's Disease being a prime example.

Last, our companies' presence can help provide jobs and tax dollars in communities across the country.

Sinek asks whether a motor-controlled projector screen actually helps solve a problem compared to its manual, string-controlled predecessor. After all, motors break and the power can go out, but the original was pretty infallible.

Meanwhile, across the spectrum of healthcare, we see innovation daily, from new medicines to new methods that help people adhere to their medicines.

What are some of your favorite examples?

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateAtPhRMA.

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