How to master cross innovation from an HR perspective

With some valuable insights in the pockets we’ve returned from XIV. BIONNALE in Berlin, where innovative researchers and business executives met to indulge in the full spectrum of life sciences including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medical technology. Consequently cross innovation was a main topic there but also other fields like targeted therapies, bio-based products and cardiovascular medical technologies were discussed. One thing we particularly liked was, how BIONNALE had stepped up its networking efforts and made it possible on multiple occasions to build a network of like-minded experts. Just as we had succeeded with our networking event the evening before BIONNALE, it was particularly interesting to bring together experts from various fields within the life sciences. And why was that so interesting?

Networking your way across the fields

Whether it is online or out there in the “real world” – networking is a vital part of building up resources and broaden your horizon , also when it comes to HR. After all, innovation is not only a technical question, it largely takes place in non-technical areas, such as HR. If you can’t adapt to innovation on an HR level, it’s going to be that much harder to leverage the technical innovation to an optimal economic outcome. That also means that if you can’t attract, hold and motivate the innovative candidates, you might get in trouble sooner or later.

Networking is not only stimulating and inspiring, it’s often a very good way to “have a look” into other fields or cross innovation and get a feeling for how people work there, what topics are “hot” and not to forget whether it’s a valuable field to tap into to look for candidates. Life sciences combine so many fields: Healthcare, Pharma, IT, Biotech, Medtech, Engineering, etc. so you better network your way through all that to find where the gems for your company or job search are hidden. If you want to keep up with cross innovation, you need to understand the people you need for that.

Find a more flexible approach to you job profiles

Because the more the fields merge and are necessary to cross in order to innovate, the more flexible you need to become with your job profiles. How are you going to be able to master cross innovation, if you have no people who can cross? Sounds pretty obvious, but is infinitely much harder to actually leverage. If you have a clear and narrow job profile you might know much better what you want and what you get. HR always needs to keep and eye on associated risks and resource requirements. But you also leave out a lot of potential talent that comes from “across”.

When you’re scouting for technologies for innovation you need experienced candidates who don’t only understand the scientific but also the commercial value of a technology – and who are able to sell it in a boardroom. The profiles of such candidates are usually rather diverse and have filled a number of functions throughout their career. The more “commercial” a position is or the more it’s dependent on commercial success, the broader the profile needs to be. The candidates need to be like a tree with a core of specialized knowledge and a lot of layers or rings of cross-functional experience around it. That’s how you withstand rough times and stormy weather.

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