“Widening the Funnel” of Innovation in Cambridge

MarieSchillerToday's guest blog comes from Marie Schiller, vice president of delivery and device innovation and site head of the Lilly Cambridge Innovation Center.

What does the future look like?

While we certainly don’t have a crystal ball, we at least know what we want it to look like. And we know what it will take to get us there.

As a company, committed to helping people live longer, healthier, more active lives, we’ve become acutely aware of the unique opportunity of now. What does this mean? In practice, it means that now, perhaps more than any other time in history; we see that the applied practices of discovery and innovation can help us create a better world.

Building on this era of discovery, our new innovation center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will help us embrace opportunity and shape the future. The center enables us to work with leading life-science, device and technology companies and organizations to explore emerging technologies, while also helping us quickly design product systems that address the needs of patients. It complements and leverages the important development and commercialization work that we already do in Indianapolis.Cambridge1Today, we are opening our doors to local leaders from academic, government and industry communities in Massachusetts. We’re excited to share how we plan to cultivate collaborative drug, device and technology research both inside and outside of Lilly. Our focus is on exploring how next-generation medicines, emerging technologies, data analytics and new care models can improve patient health while reducing the clinical, psychosocial and economic burdens that are systemic throughout health care today.

The last year has been busy. In May 2015, we leased space in a new building in Cambridge. A cross-functional Lilly team quickly benchmarked leading innovation centers in the tech world and helped us deliver a state-of-the-art facility in record time. Over the next two to three years, we expect to have a staff of approximately 40 people working at our Cambridge site. Roughly 30 percent of these people have already been hired. Both our third- and fourth-floor laboratories are fully functional with prototyping and experiments already underway. Multiple external collaborations have already been initiated using novel innovation models that optimize speed and expand our innovation pipeline.


Discovering and developing innovative drug delivery systems requires work across multiple disciplines, especially among delivery, device and digital technologies and pharmaceutical sciences. That’s why we have also set up a pharmaceutical sciences group in this center in partnership with Dr. Arup Roy, vice president of bioproductresearch and development at Lilly.

We are also working to leverage our Cambridge presence to accelerate foundational research and explore disruptive technologies that could help deliver Lilly’s portfolio.

Ultimately, our goal is to widen the funnel of innovation, access and test more ideas, and speed innovation to help people around the world. Patients are waiting for new therapies, and our success has the potential to truly transform their lives.

The Lilly Innovation Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, provides a start-up environment with large company support. Our team members share a passion for challenging conventional wisdom and creating an environment that embraces prioritization of high-risk, breakthrough concepts. We are located in the core of Massachusetts’ exponential growth as a science and technology cluster, within walking distance of some of the best academic and industry innovators in the world. The center has been designed to cultivate collaborative drug, device and technology research across all of Lilly’s therapeutic areas.