Healthcare and Life Sciences3 Key Considerations to Ensure a Reputation for Life Science Innovation

Innovation in life sciences isn’t easy.

Life science technology demands fast-paced innovation. The landscape of disease treatment and the patient care continuum are constantly changing. You can’t compromise on the quality and reliability of your products—as a life science instrument developer, the work you do has a direct impact on laboratory staff, healthcare providers and, most importantly, patients—yet you’re facing competitive pressure to bring these products to market quickly. If you can’t, it may take years for your company to recover from lost market share.

And speed to market is only one part of the equation. It’s also crucial that your product has staying power. It needs to provide high enough value to end users to motivate them to purchase or switch to your product. It must be cost-effective, easy to use, and simplify their daily workflow. To achieve that, you need to build a full understanding of your customer and how you will address their unmet needs. That’s how you ensure that your product and company name make a lasting and positive impression in the market.

Innovating at this quality and speed is difficult because you’re at the cutting edge of both the assay development science and instrument design and engineering. The biochemistry and formulation behind your assay must be understood and developed into a product. In parallel, the complex systems and hardware engineering must be executed to develop the instrument to run your assay. Having to simultaneously manage a team of scientists and a team of engineers is challenging, particularly when you need the agility to adapt throughout the development process. You need a dependable team that can draw from their technical knowledge and prior experience to keep the program on track. Unfortunately, this talent always seems to be in short supply.

In the face of all of these challenges, how do you ensure that the instrument you’re developing makes a successful entry to market? How do you keep an edge in life science innovation?

3 keys to maintaining a lead in life science innovation.

To stay at the forefront in bringing innovative life science products to market, instrument developers need to ensure a steady stream of innovation—and not just innovative thinking, but innovation that leads to execution. While innovative thinking is critical, your end goal is always to bring a fully realized product to market. Without execution, innovation isn’t much more than illusion.

One of the pitfalls of life science innovation is that it can be easy to fall into an endless cycle of ideation without a solid plan to move into execution, particularly if you are constrained by resources and time. In working with numerous innovative life science companies to bring new products to market, we have seen three key considerations to help navigate these challenges and position companies as leaders in life science innovation.

Key #1: Focus on your strengths.

There are many work streams involved in getting a product from prototype to market—assay development, instrument engineering, design for manufacturing, test development, pilot production and ramping up to higher volumes. These are examples of stages in life science product realization, and you’ll find many more steps along the way. It’s a complex process, and even the most innovative life science companies often find that they may have limited resources to manage and execute all of these work streams simultaneously.

That’s why it’s critically important to focus your limited resources on core competencies. That often means you’ll find the greatest value in bringing in a partner for the stages that fall outside your wheelhouse. This allows you to bring your extensive scientific knowledge and assay-development capabilities to the solution, while a solid instrument development partner (filling roles like design and development, sourcing and supply chain, and manufacturing) will complement your in-house capabilities.

Perhaps the most critical connection lies in the engineering perspective. A partner who understands the complexities of integrating an assay into an instrument design and subsequently progressing that design through product development and manufacturing is worth their weight in gold. This is the model Plexus Corp. has brought to the table for many leading, innovative life science companies, and we’ve seen firsthand the difference a strong partnership can make in allowing life science innovators to fully leverage the best of their own strengths combined with the best of ours.

Which sets us up nicely for the next key to life science innovation …

Key #2: Bring in a force multiplier.

A true partner will not only augment your staff, but also amplify your results and accelerate your timeline. If you don’t have a highly experienced partner in life sciences product development, then your team may find itself wasting valuable time with lengthy onboarding and menial day-to-day management. You need a collaborative partner who can hit the ground running, while also providing innovative thinking and added perspective.

At Plexus, we’ve seen the exponential effects you can unlock when working with the right partner. In partnerships with many life sciences companies, we’ve repeatedly seen our teams work in lockstep with development teams to bring complex, innovative life science products to the market—on time and with the highest quality.

And it’s more than simply added resources. You’ll also benefit from specialized processes and a wide base of knowledge. Taking Plexus as an example, we work with more than 140 customers across all of our market sectors, which allows our highly cross-trained engineers to bring a broad range of expertise and knowledge to your project. Our organization is fully integrated across engineering and manufacturing, which means we will bring together input from skilled design engineers, supply chain specialists, new product introduction managers, and manufacturing experts. At our core we are a strategic service provider, where our success is only driven by meeting your product development and manufacturing needs.

What all of this adds up to is more than a partner to fill resource needs in engineering or manufacturing. The true result is a collaboration that multiplies the impact of your own team’s core expertise.

Key #3: Prioritize the user experience to stay ahead of the competition.

You know that your industry is highly competitive and demands rapid innovation to stay relevant. If you are unable to get a high-quality product to market quickly, then you will fall behind and it could take many years to recover.

But staying ahead of the competition is about more than just beating your rivals to market. It’s also about ensuring that you’re giving the innovative life science products you’re developing their best chance to succeed with the users who will adopt them.

This is another area where a strategic partnership can pay dividends. The right kind of partner will not only provide you with the resources and expertise to move quickly, but also position your product as a robust solution for your customers. At Plexus, we address this critical need through our User-Centered Design (UCD) specialty area. The UCD team provides the services to help innovative life science companies fully understand the product’s end users and properly design a solution that meets their needs from the very beginning. Combining this with our supply chain and manufacturing experts, we’re able to move those user-centered design solutions quickly into production. So you reduce time to market, while ensuring a great experience for your end users.

Leading in life science innovation is a team sport.

The pace of innovation is accelerating. New ideas, breakthroughs and game-changing instruments are being developed every day. Along with this come expectations—pressures from the business, product marketing teams and the market itself—to deliver life science innovation at a steady clip.

At the end of the day, all discussions of life science innovation point to the same objective for your business: Building great products that not only make it to market, but have the ability to lead the market—and make a real difference in the world.

Making this happen consistently can be challenging. But when you bring in the right partner, especially early in the instrument development process, that’s how you can best position yourself to bring your game-changing technology out of the lab, build the right instrument around it and cement your place as a leader in life science innovation.

Questions about bringing in a partner to help? Our Life Sciences team is always ready with answers. Get in touch to learn how you can combine your expertise with our capabilities to bring your most innovative life science products to market.

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