A hands-on and result-oriented program to advance innovative projects
Merck is a leading science and technology company, operating across Healthcare, Life Science, and Electronics. Merck operates globally with >60K employees and reached >€17B in revenues in 2022. We have been working with Merck since 2009 to develop breakthrough innovations.
Merck asked us to train their scientists working on innovation in their Think Tank and Open Campaigns. We trained their science & technology staff members: in the trainings that we organized, the participants learned about methods such as value propositions, STP (segmentation, targeting, & positioning), generating insights, CX (customer experience), asking the right business questions, market validation, business model design, commercialization, and assumption testing. They immediately applied them to their projects and jobs, securing a very practical way to train competencies.
Think Tank & Open Campaigns
Each Think Tank brings together 8 internal experts for a period of 3-months (full-time) to explore new innovation fields. Through this campaign, Merck focuses on newly identified fields that can generate substantial growth. In recent years we, for example, worked on cultured, smart agriculture, and biomarker detection. Think Tanks run twice per year, each with a new cohort of participants and across 2 innovation fields.
The Open campaigns on the other hand aim to accelerate internal ideas to innovation projects through collaboration with external partners. Merck, for example, collaborates with the Max Planck Institute, TU Darmstadt, and Stanford University. In an open campaign, we brought together several innovation teams (between 4-6 innovation teams consisting of 4-6 members; for 25-30 participants in total) who we trained to accelerate and progress on their innovation cases and secure funding.
Market & Customer Understanding Program
Following an internal analysis of knowledge gaps and needs, we delivered a program on Market & Customer Understanding to the Science & Technology Office. In our first edition of the program, we worked with a group of 25 participants, to cover a variety of topics (including STP, CX, & commercialization). The program was composed of 6 half-day workshops that build on each other, with participants working in teams to advance several innovation projects.
Mixing methods to foster learning
We bring our expertise in learning to smartly mix different interactive methods. We always provide inspiration cases: these can be both external best-practice cases and internal case examples we co-build with Merck or are based on our years of cooperation. For each session, we make sure to share tooling that supports decision-making. We also train participants through executive-style case discussions (typically Harvard Business School cases). These include a mix between in-industry and outside-industry cases. We also work closely with internal experts who join our program to share knowledge on internal ways of working. With a focus on results, all our training includes teamwork and coaching sessions. Here, participants work in teams to apply the learnings and tooling to their specific projects. We support them with the applications and challenge them on their projects. We also included pitching sessions in which participants share their projects and receive feedback from us and other participants.
Over the years, through these campaigns and programs, we have trained 200+ participants. Our trainings at Merck have a clear and tangible outcome. At the end of our training, teams present progress on their innovation cases and typically ask for additional funding from their management. On top of the learnings that participants carry forward to their daily jobs and their teams, we have achieved great success with the teams we train and the additional funding they have obtained. Before we were onboarded in these processes, the success of teams in generating additional funding was limited to non-existent. Once we took over, we achieved a success rate on this metric of about 1 out of every 2 cases receiving additional funding. To provide a notion of scale, some of the ideas that people work on along this training journey are valued above 10 million euros.
From Voice-of-Customer, Merck works with us for several reasons. First, in their own words: we are real experts, we know what we are talking about, both in theory as well as in practice, which they see as rare among consultants. Second, we understand the life science business, which we have worked on across several leading companies all around the world. Third, we connect easily with R&D and science people, because of our origin and sustained relationships with universities and university communities. Fourth, we are flexible coaches to innovators that offer real tangible support, rather than “shoot-from-the-hip.”