Leading innovation requires incredible patience and incredible impatience; it requires optimism and absolute brutal realism.
2. They begin with the end in mind
4. They embrace risk
6. They leverage others
It is very easy to get caught up in scientific research
Risk is synonymous with entrepreneurial endeavour,
The scientist-entrepreneur recognises their
and forget what it is all for. Those that actively
but is often antithetical to the DNA of a scientist.
limitations and leverages the expertise of others,
stay connected to the end game — to the unmet
The scientist-entrepreneur embraces a healthy
with the people skills to lead cross-functionally.
needs of patients or customers — are more likely
relationship with risk. They don’t need to have all
Steve Blank (father of the Lean Startup movement)
to have meaningful impact. This is a key premise
the answers before taking action. They don’t let
puts it simply: “The ‘must’ is to realize that just
of programs like NSF I-Corps in the US or CSIRO
perfection be the enemy of success. There is risk in
because you are the smartest person in the building
ON in Australia. The scientist-entrepreneur gets
shifting focus away from academic pursuits (though
does not make you capable to run a company.”
to know the end user intimately, and uses this
thankfully funding bodies are beginning to recognise
These are the kind of people we invest in at The
knowledge to craft a vision that others can embrace.
commercial experience), but what is the alternative?
iQ Group — because with our expertise supporting
“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far
and championing a scientist-entrepreneur with
3. They develop commercial acumen
less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.”
these qualities, we are confident that together we can
“Scientists are well suited to learning the skills
(John F Kennedy).
build great companies that will make a significant
they need to navigate the entrepreneurial pathway
impact on human health. They are the kind of
because they are intelligent and logical, and they
5. They value failure
people that the nation desperately needs if we are
understand how to do research.” (C&EN) —
If innovation is to prevail then one must differentiate
to capitalise on our wealth of medical research.
many, however, never do. Successful scientist-
between setback and capitulation; being defeated
entrepreneurs develop at least a high-level
is a temporary position, giving up is permanent.
understanding of intellectual property protection,
The scientist-entrepreneur understands that
regulation, marketing and commercial strategy
innovation is neither systematic nor is it predictable.
(including drivers for investment). Encouragingly,
Leading innovation requires incredible patience and
many research institutions are increasingly focused
incredible impatience; it requires optimism and
on instilling these skills in their students and
absolute brutal realism. It means viewing inevitable
failures as the ultimate educator.
arium ultrapure ®
40 | LAB+LIFE SCIENTIST - Jun/Jul 2017
*Dr Cameron Ferris is passionate about the Australian innovation ecosystem, having spent the last 8+ years across research (3D bioprinting), commercialisation and commercial innovation (most recently with Ernst & Young). The iQ Group Global www.theiqgroupglobal.com
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