Sourcing Innovation to Solve Healthcare Challenges

by Ingo Elfering, GSK Business Transformation
May 27, 2014 12:40 PM ET

Some weeks ago our team approached me asking if I wanted to participate in the judging panel for the Harvard Innovation Lab (iLab). I immediately said yes because it was an opportunity for me to champion the idea of innovation in healthcare and see what others are doing.

The Boston and Cambridge area is a hub for high tech and medical innovation. It comes as no surprise that GSK has its eyes and ears on the healthcare technology that is developed in the area. From the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to Harvard, to GSK’s own satellite R&D office and SR1 venture capital arm, the Boston/Cambridge area attracts thinkers, innovators, and entrepreneurs from all over the world who are intriguing.

When we heard about the Harvard iLab's Dean’s Health and Life Science Challenge, we decided to explore how GSK could support the school and their entrepreneurial-minded students, postdocs, and clinical fellows drive innovative solutions that will improve health delivery and patient lives.

This is the first year we’ve collaborated with the iLab. GSK provided several judges and mentors from different parts of our business to evaluate the students' health-related proposals, focusing on real-life applications. I had the opportunity to evaluate several interesting innovations during the preliminary judging round. Of these, several were chosen as part of the group of six projects to move into the finals.

Our commitment to helping people do more, feel better, and live longer requires constant innovation… not only in the form of our medicines and vaccines, but also in new technologies that enable us to approach challenges in new and different ways. That’s why we engage with early- and late-stage innovators. We want to connect with students who may ultimately affect healthcare. The Harvard iLab gives us exposure to future innovation within the healthcare industry and those who are changing the healthcare landscape. 

In addition to participating in opportunities like the one at the iLab, we also launch challenges designed to establish a culture of innovation. Some example challenges include the Save the Children Innovation challenge and GSK's Bioelectronics Prize.

As a company, we are open to supporting great ideas in different ways. Whether we are involved sharing our knowledge through opportunities like Harvard iLab or providing varying forms of investment and collaboration, we believe that fresh thinking challenges us and will ultimately help us tackle the world’s most pressing problems in healthcare.