Medical innovation is the lifeblood of our business. Without it, diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's will continue to claim far too many lives.
Traditionally, a company like Lilly would employ a team of scientists to discover molecules that may treat illnesses like depression, diabetes, and osteoporosis. And that still happens. But today, Lilly also has paved many new roads to innovation, and Jan Lundberg, Ph.D. -- president of Lilly Research Laboratories -- outlined a number of them today in Indianapolis during a speech on innovation.
Many of them we've talked about before, such as FIPNet (using a network of vendors and suppliers to achieve the same goals as internal processes), Chorus (a small, cross-disciplinary group of Lilly scientists who design, interpret, and oversee early stage development), and PD2, a biological screeening process allowing Lilly to evalulate potential compounds synthesized in other settings, such as universities and biotech labs.
These approaches, and others, have led to the blossoming life sciences industry in Indiana. To that end, Dr. Lundberg posed three four questions during his speech:
• How can we expand collaboration between industry and academia (such as shared learnings about not only successes, but also failures).
• How can we work together as a life sciences community to solve and overcome regulatory challenges? hurdles?
• How can we bring Indiana life sciences sector even further to the world stage? and attract more world-class talent to the state?
• How can we better satisfy customer needs (patients, providers, payers)?
These are questions that will continue being addressed as we move down the innovation path. For Indiana, that's a clear net positive as organizations like BioCrossroads -- the host of Tuesday's discussion -- work to enhance the state's life sciences leadership role. BioCrossroads, which finds funding and business partners for organizations trying to discover new life sciences breakthroughs, has raised nearly $250 million in market capital and philanthropic funding to identify and pursue promising life sciences opportunities in Indiana (all since 2002). In fact, four venture capital funds have invested in 25 start-up life sciences companies in Indiana, attracting more than $160 million in additional outside venture capital.
The work by BioCrossroads, Lilly, and others prompted The Economist in 2009 to state: "Though every state wants to be a hub for life sciences, Indiana really is one." The next challenge: build upon it. And today's speech was a good conversation starter.