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13
Feb
An Innovative Journey

   Introduction

I am a Physics and Mathematics graduate, whose recent history has been as part of the Analytics and Project Management Office department within MRN. I have recently had my responsibilities extended to include the development and management of the new R&D office within MRN. Given these new responsibilities, I have an increased role in continuing the innovation legacy within the company.

As part of the journey, I thought I would take the opportunity to write about my experiences and observations on the topic as I do my work.

Definition

When I have looked at various descriptions or definitions of the word ‘Innovation’, there are 2 key words that are generally common amongst all of them; New and Better. When you start into how do people interpret the word then you will see a huge proliferation of what innovation is and what it includes.

New

Obviously, we all understand the word new but what has to be new? Technology is a great example. Where every step forward is later translated into a variety of different services or products as it spreads through various industries. Is the technology new or the application of the technology new? Or both?

As an example, take wearable devices. The use of wearable devices in clinical trials might be considered an innovation, while the device itself may also be considered an innovation due to its new combination of existing sensors and microcontrollers, which was made possible by innovations in miniaturisation.

Better

I think it is due to this requirement that the word has taken the world by storm. When we want to say that our product is better than the competition and we are describing our Unique Selling Point, why not use the word innovation? If you are trying to say, we do things a bit differently and we believe we are better, then we are being innovative. We don’t have to spend very long on our emails to probably delete a few that contain the phrase ‘our innovative design’ or ‘our innovative approach’.

MRN – Home Trial Support

Given the above, I am not sure whether I can claim that MRN is innovative or not. Prior to MRN providing its Home Trial Support (HTS) service, homecare was in use in the commercial side of the industry and some sporadic use within the clinical trial industry, but only within the US.

This would seem on the surface to imply that MRN was not truly innovative with its HTS service as it was not the first, nor is the concept of homecare a new concept. On the other hand MRN did spend a lot of time and energy driving and changing the service from where it started to where it is today. This raises two interesting questions in my mind, the first, what level of commercialisation is required in order to facilitate innovation? The second is, what level of change to something is required to consider it a new thing? Take Facebook, as an example, the world’s largest social network but not the first (this accolade apparently goes to a company called SixDegrees.com). What is considered to make Facebook innovative is how they have used and built upon social media use by adding new functionality. At what point did Facebook get the title innovative? It would seem it is not a simple as who did it first.

Applying this to MRN would imply to me that as MRN pushed the concept into the wider market place and was subsequently the first to deliver a global Home Trial Support service in the clinical trial sector that this does have the potential to be considered innovative. Clinical trials have become increasingly more complex and globalised in recent history, so is it enough to say it was delivered in a single country for the first time? Does that meet the requirements of the industry?

Summary

As the above is mostly a discussion of questions rather than answers, I would appreciate any comments that people may have on the above and I look forward to throwing myself into this new opportunity and raising a whole load of further questions as I go further into this rabbit hole.

 

Alex Wylie

Strategic Change Analyst

Posted by:
Zara Broadfield
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