It’s not an understatement to say that for the pharmaceutical industry, innovation is everything. The sector is entirely driven by it, from early-stage research through to transforming production processes. But it’s not innovation for innovation’s sake. It is innovation with a focus on what can be achieved to improve the public and individual health of our citizens. 


Indeed, our work at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) helps support our member companies research, develop, and supply cutting-edge treatments that improve and save the lives of millions of people. In the last 18 months, that’s included discovering new treatments and finding new vaccines to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. 

To do this, our members have been innovative in how they think and act.  Without this, our industry will not uncover the breakthroughs – be they cutting-edge treatments, devices, or services – that change patients’ lives. We believe that with this broader view of innovation, industry and the wider health and social care sector can come together to drive even better health and economic wellbeing.  

Mindset matters 

But what can help influence this? The mindsets of both organisations and individuals plays a big role, where factors such as leadership, the working culture, and organisational structure all impact on how successfully innovation is adopted. Life Sciences Hub Wales have recently published ‘Achieving Innovation in Health and Social Care: a narrative review’, which usefully reviews information and research related to these topics.  

At ABPI we have seen first-hand the impact that mindset can have. Having staff from a diverse range of backgrounds and with different expertise, can help foster a collaborative focus.  Approaches that use cross functional and cross sectoral ways of working ensure the widest set of perspectives are considered and siloes are broken down. Here, it is an organisations’ values and culture which can play a significant role. 

Taking an open and inclusive approach to how innovation is adopted is also important is in getting treatments to patients faster. Cementing confidence between partners can help with this, including in how to navigate appropriate guidance and procedures. There are examples of things moving forward in this area, and it’s important that the pharmaceutical industry and the healthcare system can work together to the benefit of patients.  

Creating a bold and strategic vision 

We always need to ensure that we’re keeping the bigger picture in mind when fostering the development and adoption of innovation. This includes bringing all relevant partners to the table when talking about improving health and wellbeing – including industry, patients, and social care. There is certainly a movement towards this. Following the ‘Parliamentary Review of Health and Social Care in Wales’, we have seen good progress and ambition in integrating social care into health and wellbeing approaches. This is certainly the case with the discussions that our members are having in Wales. Thinking about health and well-being holistically helps to realise the triple benefits that are so key: to the healthcare system, the company involved, and most importantly, patients. 

Seeing the bigger picture is also key when aiming to deliver large-scale transformation. Whilst pilots can be important in demonstrating the value of small-scale projects, we also need to focus on achieving the required spread, pace, and scale. Foresight and an ambitious vision must help drive this larger-scale change across industry, health, and social care. This is of particular importance on the global stage, where nations are currently developing detailed roadmaps to recovery. If Wales want to play a significant role in this, then time is of the essence. To build back better – and fairer – we need to drive forward, planning with ambition and at pace. 

Life Sciences Hub Wales has developed an online resource to support how we can achieve innovation across health and social care.