It would be hard to dispute that working from an office situated minutes from the ocean and ensconced by a forest in a mountain town may stimulate you emotionally, but does it inspire you to be more innovative? Would you be just as innovative if you were seated on a rigid office chair in a windowless room illuminated by a blinking fluorescent light? In other words – are you innovative because of your environment or in spite of your environment?
Clement Stone suggested, “You are a product of your environment. So choose the environment that will best develop you toward your objective. Are the things around you helping you toward success — or are they holding you back?” So beyond having a building that overlooks treetops tickling the sky, should your workplace be designed to produce specific performance outcomes with creative options such as climbing walls, standing desks or open spaces? According to Forbes, emerging data coupled with organizational metrics (total sales or number of new-product launches) companies are demonstrating a workspace’s impact on the bottom line and then engineering a space to improve it.
And beyond ones physical space, do evolving titles or motivational business roles impact innovation? According to Harvard Business Review, there is a tight correlation between personal interactions, performance, and innovation. Over the past years, a number of innovative company structures as well as corporate buzzwords have emerged as well, complimenting the aforementioned workspaces. Would you like to be a company’s Chief Happiness Officer or Chief Eco-system Officer? Have you ensured that your team has successfully conquered LEAD, BID, BEER and PRIC?
Is your head spinning from this onslaught of innovation?
Have you heard of the acronym CRO? For our German friends, CRO does not refer to the German rapper but rather, to the term contract research organization (CRO). In 1989, as the CRO market was beginning to expand, Pierre-Paul Elena, PhD, founded Iris Pharma, offering preclinical and clinical drug device development services dedicated to ophthalmology, which was, at the time, a niche market. After a leveraged management buyout in 2015, Yann Quentric assumed Presidency in 2015, taking his seat at the company’s headquarters on a mountaintop near Nice, France.
As with most industries, the ophthalmology industry has underdone technological, competitive, and regulatory changes and as such, innovation is key. The company helps clients around the world navigate every stage of the drug and device development process (including in vivo screening, proof of concept, ocular efficacy, GLP preclinical studies, bio-analysis, clinical trials, and marketing surveys) and adjusts to an evolving environment, both in Europe as well as globally. When looking at Europe, for example, each country has its own local regulations and although they need to harmonize with overarching EU regulations, this is not always the case. The anticipated BREXIT will further complicate collaboration because of pricing and regulations but Yann is convinced that, with time, Iris Pharma will adjust as needed.
Either way, collaboration-fertilization-pollination or even hybridization across borders is a concept that the company readily embraces, engineering the relevant teams as needed for a particular product or research need. For example, in terms of dry eye disease, Spain is currently a more active market and as such, it makes sense to allocate teams dealing with dry eye research there. Networking continues on a number of different platforms and levels even outside of the company. For example, Yann lauded TFOS as a “main extraordinary network in one field which is very interesting and very new. The TFOS network is different because it is dealing with individuals and not just companies and this is key for our company to create external links. Second, the TFOS DEWS II report is highly anticipated since it will be a bible, of sorts, in dry eye.”
However, getting innovative products (drugs or medical devices) through the regulatory process is a tedious next step, and a challenge that each market faces differently. Whether this process is more or less complicated in Europe than in the United States, to use a benchmark comparison, is up for debate. One reference point is here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2452302X16300638 and Iris Pharma, as others in the industry, understand that innovation throughout the entire process is key to the success of a product.
At the same time, this is no longer as niche of a market as it once was and as a result, the dynamics and relationships have changed. For example, there has not only been a consolidation of pharmaceutical companies but an increase in biotech companies, leading to a more actors as well as more opportunities in medical devices and platforms for the visually impaired. In fact, Iris Pharma recently signed an agreement with Streetlab, a company that works to improve independence, mobility and quality of life for the visually impaired. In light of this announcement, Yann stated “ By combining our respective fields of expertise, together we can provide healthcare firms with assessment criteria for calibrated, innovative clinical trials which are adapted as closely as possible to the specific needs of visually impaired patients, thus meeting innovation challenges as successfully as possible.”
But what reply begets innovation at the end of the day? A solid idea coupled with an ability to foresee and adapt to evolving market and client needs. Of course, having an office perched on a mountain top does help, as well.
Dominica Drazal Director, TFOS Global Ambassador Program