From the Director
This Center for Integration of Science and Industry is an outgrowth of my longstanding interest, and that of the National Biomedical Research Foundation (NBRF), in finding ways to accelerate the translation of scientific discoveries for public value. In our society, there is an implied social compact in which the public supports basic science, and commercial enterprise is responsible for translation of scientific discoveries into products and value to the public. In the classical path for translational science, commercial enterprise has the responsibility for raising the capital required to develop a product, fashioning the fruits of science into a finished product, establishing scalable manufacturing capabilities, achieving regulatory approvals, and finally establishing a marketing, distribution, and support network for the product. By translating basic science into approved and marketed products, the commercial enterprise is expected to provide value to the public in the form of the material or personal benefits that accrue from the use such products, jobs, financial returns to individual and institutional shareholders, and economic growth.
Objective analysis suggests that this path to value creation is inefficient. In the biopharmaceutical industry, there has been no improvement in the number of products coming to market or the time/cost required for product development, despite radical advances in molecular biology, chemistry, and genomics. In agricultural science, it is estimated that there is a 30 year lag between scientific discoveries and corresponding crop improvements. In energy, research in distributed generation and alternative energy technologies have not provided products that can compete effectively with fossil fuels. In the workplace, advances in automation and information technology have produced proportionally smaller improvements in worker productivity, something that is known as the “IT Paradox.”
Looking at the big picture, while scientific and technological progress is classically described as being exponential, value creation has generally been a slow, linear process. That is not to deny that there have been salient successes; that certain dread diseases are now curable, that there are measurable improvements in health, agriculture, energy production, and the workplace, that investors have often made money investing in technology, that jobs have been created, and that technology has been a critical driver of economic growth; only that we should be able to do better, and that the public deserves greater value from their investment in science.
Our expectation is that better integration of scientific progress and business practice, in all their manifold complexity, holds the key to improving the efficiency of translating science for public benefit and tangible value. We hope that the Center for Integration of Science and Industry will become a globally respected forum for thought leadership and the exchange of ideas among stakeholders in technically-informed enterprise and translational management; a Center the produces state-of-the art research, position papers, and educational programs; and a Center that provides value-added services to industry and - by improving the efficiency of translational science - value to the public.
Fred Ledley, MD
Director Center for the Integration of Science and Industry