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Afeyan, Noubar B.;Pisano, Gary P.
Biotechnology industry;Pharmaceutical industry
Many people believe that the process for achieving breakthrough innovations is chaotic, random, and unmanageable. But that view is flawed, the authors argue. Breakthroughs can be systematically generated using a process modeled on the principles that drive evolution in nature: "variance generation," which creates a variety of life-forms; and "selection pressure" to select those that can best survive in a given environment. Flagship Pioneering, the venture-creation firm behind Moderna Therapeutics and one of the most widely used Covid-19 vaccines in the United States, uses such an approach. It has successfully launched more than 100 life-sciences businesses. Its process, called "emergent discovery," is a rigorous set of activities including prospecting for ideas in novel spaces; developing speculative conjectures; and relentlessly questioning hypotheses.