Innovating for Innovation

Published on: 
Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology-02-02-2016, Volume 40, Issue 2
Pages: 12

Suppliers must develop new technologies to drive the bio/pharma innovation engine.

In a culture driven by rapid advances in consumer electronics-and despite a jump in new drug approvals in the past two years-the pace at which new drugs are brought to market is extremely slow compared with the introductions of technologies in other markets. While consumers camp out overnight to be the first to buy the latest smartphone, patients often wait years for effective therapies.

Still, bio/pharma companies are making a mark in the global innovation arena. In a compilation of the top innovator companies worldwide, pharmaceutical companies claimed seven spots, an increase from four companies in 2014. In addition, a number of chemical companies that provide APIs, intermediates, or excipients made the list of innovative companies.

Now in its fifth year, the Thomson Reuters 2015 Top 100 Global Innovators list (1) identifies corporations that successfully invest in R&D, develop protected, commercialized products, and outperform companies with lesser innovation efforts in revenue and R&D spend.

To select the leading 100 innovative companies, Thomson Reuters analyzed patent and citation data across four criteria: volume, success, globalization, and influence. To qualify, a company must have 100 unique inventions protected by a granted patent over the most recent five-year period. The success criteria measures the ratio of inventions described in published applications to inventions protected with granted patents. The globalization factor evaluates inventions protected in multiple regions: China, Japan, Europe, and the United States. Influence measures the impact of an invention: how often it is cited by other organizations.

Top bio/pharma innovators
When ranked by the number of companies on the list, the pharmaceutical industry trailed only the chemical, semiconductor and electronic components, and automotive segments. Three companies are based in the US; two are based in Germany and two in Switzerland. The award report noted advances in genomics, emergence of targeted therapies, and use of biologics as contributing to a “pseudo rebirth, despite the decline of the Blockbuster drug era.”

The pharmaceutical companies on the Top 100 Global Innovators list are:

  • Abbott Laboratories (US): previous wins in 2013 and 2014

  • Bayer (Germany): previous win in 2011

  • Boehringer Ingelheim (Germany)

  • Bristol-Myers Squibb (US): previous win in 2011

  • Johnson & Johnson (US): previous wins in 2013 and 2014

  • Novartis (Switzerland): previous win in 2014

  • Roche (Switzerland): previous wins in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

In addition to the global innovators list, Thomson Reuters compiled a list of the top innovator companies in the Bay Area near San Francisco, CA. Known as a hub for the semiconductor and electronics development, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies also made a mark, with representation from Alza Corp., Genetech, Gilead Sciences, Rigel Pharmaceuticals, Roche Molecular Systems, Theravance, and XOMA Technology.

The tools of innovation
Innovation is also apparent in the types of instruments and methods available for today’s bio/pharma research and quality control. In this issue, senior editor Agnes Shanley reviews advances in analytical technologies, methods, and operational practices. Beyond new instrumentation, technology adapted from consumer electronics-such as wireless communications and handheld devices-are shaping the way drugs are manufactured and monitored.

With two major trade shows and conferences for analytical research on the horizon-Pittcon in Atlanta from March 6-10 and Analytica in Munich, Germany from May 10-13-the bio/pharma industry can expect new technology introductions from instrument vendors over the next few months. Perhaps these new tools can further accelerate bio/pharma innovation, and cut the wait times for patients seeking cures and treatments.

1. Thomson Reuters, Top 100 Global Innovators, online, accessed Jan. 28, 2016.

Article DetailsPharmaceutical Technology
Vol. 40, No. 2
Page: 12

When referring to this article, please cite it as R. Peters, “Innovating for Innovation," Pharmaceutical Technology 40 (2) 2016.