Complex Science Doesn’t Make You Special

By David Chapin

All bioscience today is complex. To understand the questions that are being asked, much less to tease out significant answers, the level of education required is considerably higher today than it was 150 years ago, when Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species.

Complexity carries with it very little commercial value, other than the fact that it may be a temporary “barrier to entry.” If you are the only person on the planet who understands that particular types of siRNA can act as a biomarker for a certain condition (such as, I don’t know, halitosis) then you have a clear advantage, if you can meet four conditions: if there is demand, if the idea can be commercialized (that is, if you can execute on the idea), if you can scale the business and if you can do this fast enough so that other people don’t get past the complexity barrier and capitalize before you do.

To meet the first of these conditions (to build demand), you have to explain your idea, particularly to get enough money to meet the next three conditions (commercialization, scale and timing). While complexity works for you temporarily as a barrier to entry, it definitely works against you (and continues to work against you) when it comes to explaining your idea and building demand.

Given that all bioscience is complex today, the ability to make the issues clear and compelling is an “evolutionary advantage.” It allows companies with this trait to thrive, and hinders those without it; the ability to clarify issues and make them compelling does make you special.

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