How hard is innovation really?


Ideas are plentiful but most don't pass all the challenges needed to break through. Here we explain how it works.


A technician looks at a tray of test tubes, from Unsplash


Innovation in healthcare holds the promise of transforming the industry, leading to improved patient outcomes, increased efficiency, and enhanced overall well-being. While the concepts behind innovation might not be inherently difficult, the true measure of an innovation's value lies in how well it can progress through a series of critical stages. In this blog post, we will explore the journey of healthcare innovation, from its conception to the final transaction, and understand the challenges faced at each stage.

Conception: where ideas are born

At the heart of every successful innovation is a groundbreaking idea. This stage involves brainstorming, ideation, and identifying potential solutions to pressing healthcare challenges. However, turning a brilliant concept into reality isn’t automatic or guaranteed. Most innovations fail to progress beyond this stage due to various factors, such as lack of funding to test, perceived lack of market demand, or doubts about real-world feasibility.

Proof of Concept: demonstrating viability

Once an idea takes shape, the next test is viability. The proof of concept phase involves conducting preliminary experiments and tests to validate the functionality and effectiveness of the innovation. Generating evidence at this stage is crucial in garnering support from stakeholders and potential investors, as it reduces uncertainty and risk associated with the innovation.

Protection of Intellectual Property: safeguarding innovation

In a competitive landscape, protecting intellectual property is vital. This stage entails securing patents, trademarks, or copyrights to prevent others from profiting off the innovation. Intellectual property protection not only safeguards the innovation's uniqueness but also attracts investors who seek assurance that their investments won't be easily replicated. Trademarks and copyrights are relatively quick and inexpensive but patents take years and carry significant cost, which may sometimes be shared or offset by an industry partner.

Validation: gaining credibility and trust

Validation is a must-do step to persuade the medical community and the broader healthcare industry about the innovation's efficacy and safety. This often involves conducting extensive clinical trials, gathering empirical evidence, and publishing research findings in reputable journals, although there are cases where validation findings are kept under wraps. Healthcare providers and regulators closely scrutinize this evidence before embracing the innovation. 

Regulatory Requirements: navigating compliance hurdles

Healthcare comes with extensive regulations to ensure patient safety and overall quality of care, so naturally they apply to new treatments. This stage involves seeking regulatory approvals from agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the European Medicines Agency (EMA), depending on the innovation's nature. Meeting regulatory requirements can be a lengthy and resource-intensive process, but required to gain market access.

Outreach to Industry: building strategic partnerships

Collaborating with established industry players can significantly impact the success of healthcare innovation. Outreach to industry partners helps in gaining access to distribution networks, expertise, and resources, while also facilitating integration with existing healthcare ecosystems. Costs, risks, and expertise can all be shared with the right partner(s).

Deal Design: negotiating agreements

As healthcare innovation advances, negotiations with potential investors, manufacturers, and other stakeholders drive the process forward. This stage involves deal structuring, pricing discussions, and defining the roles and responsibilities of each party. A well-crafted deal sets the foundation for successful implementation and commercialization and should be negotiated by advisors skilled and experienced in this work.

Transaction: bringing innovation to market

The final stage of the innovation journey is the transaction, where all agreements are executed, and the innovation is officially launched into the market or under the care and responsibility of an industry partner who will take the innovation to market, often as a component of a product rather than a product in itself. At this point, the innovation faces the ultimate test: gaining acceptance and adoption by healthcare providers and patients. Effective marketing, distribution, and ongoing support are crucial to ensure the innovation's success in the market.


The road to healthcare innovation is filled with challenges, but an idea’s ultimate value lies not in its novelty or complexity but in how well it progresses through each stage, which often run in parallel. By understanding and navigating these stages effectively, we can drive forward transformative healthcare solutions that improve lives and revolutionize the industry.

Back to Blog page


Key contacts