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Techniques & Tools Clinical, Technology

A Recipe for Innovation

In our final issue of the year, we reveal the winners of The Analytical Scientist Innovation Awards (TASIAs) 2017. As Content Director Rich Whitworth pointed out in our inaugural TASIAs in 2013, innovation can be a slippery critter (tas.txp.to/Elusive). Sure, it’s the lifeblood of science, but what is it? And how can you achieve it? In search of answers, I’ve journeyed back through our archives to uncover the key ingredients for innovation, according to some of the greatest minds in analytical science…

“I’m easily distracted by shiny objects! I’m motivated by curiosity, and by the prospect of doing something new.” – Kevin Schug

“I love a challenge, and if I’m told I can’t do something, I’m all the more determined.” – Barbara Larsen

“What makes a successful inventor? Unhappiness. Unhappiness with the status quo, including yourself. The same properties that make for successful poets.”– R Graham Cooks

“In science, breakthroughs are very few and far between; most progress is incremental. Even a small improvement could be valuable. Look at a gas chromatograph in the 1970s versus one today – it’s the same technology, but you wouldn’t recognize the instrument.” – Hernan Cortes

“A collaborator of ours said to me recently, ‘I feel like a kid in a candy store!’ And that’s exactly the environment that we wanted to create – it encourages people to do great analytical science.” – Ron Heeren

“I can follow my own ideas – I’m my own boss, and I can pursue my vision and favorite topics. It’s the best job in the world.” – Oliver Fiehn

“The thought of all the people who are being left devastated by Alzheimer’s disease keeps me focused. It reminds me that we need to aim for more than just incremental improvements in our technology and analytical approach.” – Renã Robinson

“What motivates innovation? Curiosity, with eventual utility as the propellant.” - Purnendu (Sandy) Dasgupta

“[I want to] apply technology to make this world a better one.” – Klaus Witt

It seems the recipe for innovation includes curiosity, intellectual freedom, and a desire to contribute to something bigger than yourself. Of course, having a bright idea is just the start of the process. Bringing a revolutionary concept to market requires a different set of skills, and so it is often industry scientists and instrument manufacturers who nurture ideas sprouting from research, shaping them into fully-grown products. You can see the results here!

I wish you all a happy – and highly innovative – 2018!

Charlotte Barker

Editor

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About the Author
Charlotte Barker

Associate Content Director

After studying biology at Imperial College London, I got my start in biomedical publishing as a commissioning editor for healthcare journals, and I’ve spent my career covering everything from early-stage research to clinical medicine. Attracted by the creativity, talent and passion of the team, I joined Texere Publishing in 2014, where I’m now Associate Content Director and Editor of The Cannabis Scientist.

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