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Innovation and Enterprise in the Natural Sciences

Innovation and Enterprise in the Natural Sciences: The Science PLUS Paradigm

Innovation is the “Successful exploitation of new ideas” — UK DTI Innovation Unit, 1994.

“Innovation is a process of turning opportunity into new ideas and of putting these into widely used practice” — Tidd et al., 2001.

“Innovation is the specific tool of entrepreneurs, by which they exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or service” — Peter Drucker, 1985.

Innovation is an essential process to remain competitive in today’s globalized world. Innovations require entrepreneurship skills to become a reality. These skills are applicable in many situations ranging from schools, to research organizations, to business units. To transit from research to enterprise, Science, and Scientists, need to acquire new additional skill sets — the Science PLUS paradigm.

This program has been conceptualized to provide the theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed to move fully towards this new paradigm. The program can the form of short courses, or semester/quarter-long formal courses, consisting of lectures, seminars, dialogue with prominent industry practitioners of the new paradigm, and case study projects. The program will emphasize the development of “I&E” skills sets (i.e. the Science Plus paradigm), and practical exposure to real world situations.

The development of skill sets to give a competitive advantage in “I&E” in an academic or research institution will focus on:

  • Enterprise skills
  • Communication skills
  • Team building skills

Experiential learning of successful “I&E” will use case studies drawn from recent Natural Science blockbuster products, e.g. anti-cancer drugs like Avastin, drug-coated stents, herbicide-tolerant soybean varieties, aeroponic vegetable technology, and shrimp virus diagnostic kits.

The pivotal modules will teach the following:

  • Basic science entrepreneurial skills Grantsmanship — How to write, submit and win a competitive grant Resource Mobilization — How to develop an integrated RM strategy and plan.
  • Adding value to a proposal Etiquette and protocols for success in relationship building Risk Communication theory and tools (see Risk Communication Course).
  • Product development The PD pathway of product concept to blockbuster Developing and keeping FTO (“Freedom to Operate”).
  • Sourcing ideas and innovations Nurturing innovation: the 5 “S’s” Nurturing an entrepreneurial environment and culture.

Prominent resource persons will be invited from the private and public sectors to share their learnings with participants.

The program will consist of three modules, each made up of a number of 2-3 day sessions. Attendees may elect to join one or more of the sessions (commonly 14 hours spread over two consecutive days) in any of the three modules, depending on their background and past experience in “I & E”.

I&E Skills Set Module 1: Enterprise skills

This module will review the need for innovation and entrepreneurship in the Natural Sciences (for research, business, research management, capacity building), and teach basic entrepreneurial skills. It will take the student through the processes of refining an idea or product concept into a defensible product or project, develop the strategy to mobilize resources to implement the development of the project and ensure its successful implementation, and then, proactively, address any issues concerned with product acceptance.

Module 1 will comprise four sessions, as follows:

  • Grantsmanship — How to crystallize an idea, and write, submit and win a competitive project (14 hours over two days).
  • Resource Mobilization — How to develop an integrated RM strategy and plan (14 hours over two days).
  • Project Management — Successful implementation and milestones accomplished (14 hours over two days).
  • Product Development (“Lab to Market”), Product Stewardship and Freedom to Operate — Defining the pathway of product concept to market, and techniques to ensure longevity of product life, especially for biological products; strategies and techniques to create or ensure a favorable external environment for product/idea acceptance (14 hours over two days).

I&E Skills Set Module 2: Communication skills

Innovations require elements of risk, the management and communication of which could strongly influence the development of potential blockbusters. Recent learnings from the Biotechnology / Life Science industries strongly support the importance of risk management and risk communication in product development. Successful industry leaders have exploited the connectivity between innovation, risk and product development. New research has led to new tools in risk communication, which greatly enhance the likelihood of acceptance by society of new, controversial products from the Natural Sciences.

Module 2 will comprise four sessions, as follows:

  • Risk Communication — theory, tools and practice on how to effectively communicate controversial issues to a skeptical audience, and gain acceptance (14 hours over two days).
  • Winning Presentations — Techniques for developing and making presentations to different target groups (14 hours over two days).
  • Media Management — Techniques for managing interactions with various forms of media (14 hours over two days).
  • Cultural Intelligence — Etiquette and protocols essential for success and relationship building (14 hours over two days).

I&E Skills Set Module 3: Team building skills

Creative ideas may emanate from individuals, but to take these ideas to a broader constituency or market requires many skills. Successful innovations inevitably require teamwork and a nurturing, supportive environment. This module will focus on the skills needed to identify members of a team with strong individual traits which complement those of others, so that collectively, a performing team is created to give results. Profiling techniques will be reviewed to serve as tools for ensuring the selection of members who represent five principal roles, namely: –

Spark: Spots or comes up with the idea, creating the vision or defining the need (Anyone in or associated with the organization; Often from least expected area).

Sponsor: Promotes the idea or project within the organization, even during difficult times (Senior line managers, Board members, non-executive directors).

Shaper: Makes the idea / project “real”, fleshes out the premise, finds practical ways to achieve the objective (Project team members, process-oriented consultants).

Sounding Board: Someone outside the project who can be a resource to inform or validate the premise, critically reviews the practicalities, and on externalities (Informal/formal members of personal/professional networks, academics in the field, trusted colleagues).

Specialist: Someone who draws on their specialist skills to shape the idea/project from a specific viewpoint, uses it to break new ground (consultants, academics, researchers).

One session will focus on the organizational environment needed to nurture creativity, leading to innovations. Another session will teach facilitation techniques, especially the role of a good moderator to ensure peak team performance.

Module 3 will comprise three sessions, as follows:

  • Building a Team for I & E — Profiling, and the 5 “S’s” (14 hours over two days).
  • Nurturing the Entrepreneurial Environment and Culture — Innovation management audits, organizational structure and features to nurture innovation (14 hours over two days).
  • A Facilitation Toolkit — From forming to storming to performing (14 hours over two days).