Competitive Intelligence in Life Sciences

Dr. Hubert Baltes
Managing Director Insights Intelligence GmbH

In the environment of micro-, nano- and biotechnology, the high-tech area of the life sciences represents one of the main growth factors for industrialized nations, which are confronted with growing competition from emerging countries, and thus, with enormous cost and innovation pressure. This is why the term Life Sciences in the aforementioned constellation runs through national and European funding programs and networks.

The Boundaries between Areas are Becoming Blurred

The boundaries between the areas are becoming increasingly blurred. Nanotechnology provides the basic components for real-time magnetic particle imaging, which could revolutionize cancer diagnostics. Biomaterials are used in surgical wound care and in orthopedic implants, and therefore in the classic medical technology business – a global market worth 450 billion dollars. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research comments on this development: “Due to medical progress, demographic change and a globally difficult market environment the medical technology innovation system is facing a major upheaval”.

Reconnaissance that is not Shared is Useless in Combat

In an industry that is strongly export-oriented and used to double-digit growth rates even during a crisis, peo- ple are unwilling to watch this upheaval pass by without acting.

This is why the so-called “Competitive Intelligence” (CI), i.e. the systematic observation of competition and mar- ket, is becoming increasingly important. Technologies, applications, companies and markets are the coordi- nates in which competition and market mechanisms are meticulously analysed. CI is an analytical process that converts unstructured information into relevant and applicable strategic and operational knowledge. With this, the CI acts as an equal partner on the side of the classic “Business Intelligence”.

The industrial CI mainly uses public sources and puts incomplete, imprecise and sometimes even incorrect in- formation in the right perspective. CI is therefore fully in line with the growing availability of digital data. If you want to know what is going wrong in a company, take a look on Twitter to see what former employees think about the management and its decisions! It is not surprising that the language of the CI is that of armed con- flict, and the motto is: “Reconnaissance that is not shared is useless in combat!”

Competitive Intelligence is a Suitable Means Of keeping the Pulse of Innovation Strong

The main focus of the CI depends on its stage of development and the type and degree of its integration into a company. The growth phase of the core business areas also plays a major role. General priorities are the early warning of strategic challenges and the creation and defense of competitive advantages.

With their short product life cycles and low quantities, the Life Sciences and Medical Technology markets are necessarily global markets. At the same time, risks are increasing not only due to the increasingly rapid inno- vation process, but also due to regulatory entry barriers, the shortage of borrowed and risk capital and its con- centration on the market leaders.

“Competitive Intelligence” is a suitable means of minimizing these risks and keeping the pulse of innovation strong.

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