Medical innovation takes a village… or an ecosystem

June 10th, 2016
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In 1996, Hillary Clinton used the opening of the African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” as the title and central theme of a best-selling book that helped launched a political career in her own right. Today, a full 20 years later – roughly the amount of time it takes to fully raise a baby into an independent adult – she is still very actively pursuing her goals.

While this column takes no position on Ms. Clinton as a candidate, both the proverb and the time horizon in question are good parallels for the development and adoption of important new medical advances.

As with raising a child, it can often take 20 years for an innovation to go through each of four developmental stages:

  • initial discovery of a novel mechanism/approach at the benchtop (infants);
  • product development (children);
  • testing and refinement (adolescence); and
  • market adoption as a self-sustaining product (adults with jobs and homes of their own!).

And just as a child benefits from an entire “village” of adults as they development, medical innovations also benefit from developing among a rich array of resources on their developmental path. Areas like Greater Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area, and North Carolina’s Research Triangle (among others) have a history of launching successful new medical ventures.  Why? Because fueling this success requires more than just talented entrepreneurs – but also a diverse ecosystem that includes an established base of academic and governmental infrastructure in basic research, thought-leading clinical researchers and providers, and a rich array financial, advisory, logistical, and other support services. And these areas provide the developmental resources necessary to “raise” and mature innovations in the medical space.

As Popper and Company has grown, we’ve expanded to employ team members through North America – and we’re proud to serve clients globally. However, the company remains primarily rooted in Baltimore, within what is now branded as the BioHealth Capital Region™.


This fast-growing ecosystem extends southward from Baltimore, through the Washington area, and into Virginia, – encompassing 7 major research universities with medical schools, the key federal health agencies (HHS, NIH, FDA, and CMS) and some of the largest of providers of private equity financing in the world (e.g., New Enterprise Associates, Carlyle Group). The BioHealth Capital Region™ is home to over 800 life science companies, making it an ideal environment for the discovery and development of new medical innovations.

Popper is proud to lend our support to the effort to continue the growth of the area so that it ranks among the top 3 by 2023. Because it takes a village to raise a child, and ecosystems like this one to help medical innovation flourish.


At Popper and Company, we stay on the leading edge of medical technology developments and market trends so that we can bring our best, informed thinking to our clients. We can help you create growth strategies, stimulate product ideas, and find your best route to market – sometimes by thinking a bit unconventionally.

To learn more, give us a call at (410) 246-6524.


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About the Author:

I am a business leader with over 25 years of experience in managing companies providing consulting, clinical research, informatics/digital, and commercialization services to the life sciences industries. My specific area of expertise is in helping novel medical technologies with scientific and clinical promise make the transition to becoming successful commercial enterprises. Send me an email.