Innovation Should Be Expected
BY JASON J. NICHOLS, OD, MPH, PHD, FAAO
According to a recent finding from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, large American corporations have moved away from innovative research—the kind of research that comes with major risk, but offers significant reward.
On what, then, are they spending their research and development dollars? The answer: applied research. Simply put, applied research is research that uses prior art, knowledge, theory, etc., but is not original in nature.
You might be thinking: “So what’s the problem with this? It seems like a wise business decision, at least fiscally, right? Doesn’t it cost more to fund original, ground-breaking research?” Both of these are true to some degree.
Indeed, it costs significantly more to fund research that is original and fundamental. But, the strategy that is being observed is one in which larger companies are sometimes acquiring novel ideas (intellectual property) from smaller companies that are investing in big ideas. All this might make you ponder how companies can effect change when they are implementing only incremental advances.
The next logical question is: How does this relate to contact lenses and to your clinical practice? There is no question that this approach to funding research impacts your clinical practice, because some argue that it limits the drive toward game-changing technologies in vision care. Yes, we do have some great things on the horizon—myopia control, cosmetic lenses, and combination products—but I think that our industry can do better. Let’s not lose sight of this, and let’s expect more from our partners, as this will ultimately improve the way we care for our patients. As Michelangelo said, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”