Digital Single Market
Digital Economy & Society

ICT Proposers' Day 2016

Knowledge marketplace for open disruptive innovation in biomedical research

If I had read Wikinomics when it was first published several years ago, PHARMiQUEST would have been created much earlier. The knowledge marketplace arose from practical daily needs rather than analysis of mega trends, but it still helps to try to make sense of the product. In a way Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams not only provided rationale for PHARMiQUEST, but had it been around before the book was written, they would have had to mention it along InnoCentive, NineSigma or yet2.com. More recent Macrowikinomics by the same authors only reinforced my sense of direction. The rules of the game have changed and the mega trend for employing “crowd intelligence” for innovation is indeed comparable to the invention of the printing press.

So here I am, a 40+ medical doctor and an economist turned entrepreneur, reading Tapscott and Williams in a comfortable armchair, and discovering that I am a revolutionary contributing to the demise of the hierarchical ancien régime of brick and mortar corporate R&D. Learning that this revolution might even benefit global innovation, drug development, and contribute to the health of humanity is certainly a feel-good factor worth cherishing by every revolutionary. Well, I was a revolutionary in my college years reading Kuhn, Feyerabend and even Illich (Medical Nemesis)...

But the belligerent language of Wikinomics is there: weapons of mass collaboration are to turn the economy upside down. Credentialed knowledge producers share the stage [or should it be “battle theatre”?] with “amateur” creators who are disrupting every activity they touch. […] Harness the new collaboration or perish in a world where only the connected will survive. Macrowikinomics, written in the midst of the global financial crisis, is more of a warning: reboot all the old models [sounds cyberpunk], approaches, and structures or risk institutional paralysis or even collapse. […] Atrophy versus renaissance. It was the revolutionary thinking of renaissance which gave birth to the printing press and freedom to the individual.

The uberconnected, amorphous mass of self-organized individuals must be reckoned with and feared even by the old school revolutionaries. Tapscott and Williams tell a story of Ronald H. Coase, an English socialist who had a chance to tour the corporate giants of Ford and General Motors back in the 1930s. The young progressive intellectual was perplexed to observe that Henry Ford and Alfred P. Sloan Jr. managed their industrial empires akin to Generalissimus Joseph Stalin. After all, the assembly line workers were engaged in an economic transaction only when they got hired. Now the Wikinomics revolution is in gear with the new knowledge proletariat conscious of their value and capitalizing on their sought after knowledge. Collaborative innovation is killing the old, hardwired, “plan and push” mentality taught in business schools.

The revolution is most certainly not about traditional outsourcing. It is cultural, shaking the professional culture. In the old paradigm, there were clear roles and responsibilities. In the new world of wikinomics, the lines between sectors and institutions are blurring. As are the lines between established recognised professionals and self-thought multidisciplinary maverick experts.

PHARMiQUEST is our answer. We have developed the technology and considered business strategies to take it forward. The platform is ready for launch and we are seeking partners and funding to make it happen.

Submitted by: Jaro WEX (Pharmarchitecture Limited, PHARMiQUEST, United Kingdom)

Networking session: Open Disruptive Innovation (ODI)

Topic: SMEinst-01-2016-2017

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