Mr Thomson is a Certified Learning Provider (CLP) at Appleton Greene and he has experience in marketing, management and production. He has achieved a Master of Business Administration, Bachelor of Science in Biology & Chemistry and Diploma in Management & Administration. He has industry experience within the following sectors: Medical Devices; Clinical Diagnostics; Biotechnology; Pharmaceutical and Healthcare. He has had commercial experience within the following countries: Canada; United States of America or more specifically within the following cities: Vancouver; San Francisco; Chicago; Toronto and New York. His personal achievements include: extensive start-up experience; successful partnership history; 25+ years in senior management; global sales & marketing experience and expert in strategic planning. His service skills incorporate: value proposition strategy; process improvement; global sales & marketing; continuous improvement and organizational leadership.
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Appleton Greene corporate training programs are all process-driven. They are used as vehicles to implement tangible business processes within clients’ organizations, together with training, support and facilitation during the use of these processes. Corporate training programs are therefore implemented over a sustainable period of time, that is to say, between 1 year (incorporating 12 monthly workshops), and 4 years (incorporating 48 monthly workshops). Your program information guide will specify how long each program takes to complete. Each monthly workshop takes 6 hours to implement and can be undertaken either on the client’s premises, an Appleton Greene serviced office, or online via the internet. This enables clients to implement each part of their business process, before moving onto the next stage of the program and enables employees to plan their study time around their current work commitments. The result is far greater program benefit, over a more sustainable period of time and a significantly improved return on investment.
Appleton Greene uses standard and bespoke corporate training programs as vessels to transfer business process improvement knowledge into the heart of our clients’ organizations. Each individual program focuses upon the implementation of a specific business process, which enables clients to easily quantify their return on investment. There are hundreds of established Appleton Greene corporate training products now available to clients within customer services, e-business, finance, globalization, human resources, information technology, legal, management, marketing and production. It does not matter whether a client’s employees are located within one office, or an unlimited number of international offices, we can still bring them together to learn and implement specific business processes collectively. Our approach to global localization enables us to provide clients with a truly international service with that all important personal touch. Appleton Greene corporate training programs can be provided virtually or locally and they are all unique in that they individually focus upon a specific business function. All (CLP) programs are implemented over a sustainable period of time, usually between 1-4 years, incorporating 12-48 monthly workshops and professional support is consistently provided during this time by qualified learning providers and where appropriate, by Accredited Consultants.
Early attempts at defining the value proposition were more an attempt at outlining features and a limited review of benefits when selling a product or service to the consumer. By way of example, the first automobiles, were promoted as a revolutionary and more convenient, modern mode of transportation versus the horse and buggy, but failed to address a review of reliability, performance or economic payback. Efficiency and usability, key value proposition drivers, were also overlooked.
These things improved over time as consumers demanded a better understanding of usability, reliability and functionality. They also wanted a better understanding of price and economic factors when considering a purchase and not just the traditional basics such as ‘bigger, faster and better’. However, the limitations of defining a clear value proposition really originated from lack of knowledge and resources to support a cohesive marketing effort, which in most cases was restricted to crude advertising efforts, often featuring gadgets, remedies and services with largely unsubstantiated claims. There was no integration of the value proposition with a sounds sales and marketing strategy, initiated by a thorough review of consumer preference and their associated pain points, as we know it today.
Without this kind of integrated process, it’s no wonder consumer confidence waned as many products and this lack of process failed to clearly articulate a much more complete picture versus a few simple claims. This is not to say all products were created equal as many fell short of expectations based on simple functionality. Gradually, manufacturers began to better understand the consumer mindset and started to reach out to assess and review consumer needs and desires. This was the beginning of consumer confidence and brand loyalty, important value proposition factors when creating sustainability for a product or service.
In tandem with consumer engagement were operational changes within companies to provide resources towards that needed integration between departments and the understanding that what happened in one area would impact other areas other of the business as well. No longer did development and production work loosely with sales and marketing. A better understanding of decision-making and process between departments helped to recognize the impact and the relative effects of a well-defined strategy, when it came to positioning a product with clearly defined aspects of the value proposition. Departmental challenges included cost containment, inventory management and solid planning direction with respect to product needs, particularly when product deficiencies lead to revisions and updates based on consumer feedback.
In essence, companies became both better equipped and more efficient at including the consumer in the entire process of product creation and this in turn lead to much better and more cohesive attempts at defining the value proposition, as a strategic way of introducing and maintaining products in competitive markets. It was that ‘lights on’ moment when manufacturers realized that a well-defined product strategy, that included clearly conveyed aspects of the value proposition, would lead to increased revenues and profitability and longevity within the market. This is not to say that products did not have their challenges, but understanding the challenges and most importantly, revisiting and updating the value proposition, were the things that lead to continued success.
Defining a clear value proposition in hand with a sustainable sales and marketing strategy are now fundamental components of any company’s corporate strategy and more important than in the past, as companies try to differentiate their products within a highly competitive market place. The value proposition has evolved and must consider product mix, company resources, market conditions, management preference, on-going research and development and available talent to drive the proposed solution for competitive and corporate success. Once defined, the value proposition is linked to a comprehensive, process-driven sales and marketing strategy, successfully positioned to target market stakeholders for optimal growth and market capture.
It’s reasonable to state that corporate positioning and product positioning, through use of a sound value proposition, are somewhat synonymous terms. A company’s position at market is only as good as its well-defined product strategies, again, through the use of a sound value proposition. This is true of a single product company or one with multiple products in a number of market segments. There can be multiple propositions deployed, depending upon the nature of the products. The bottom line is, to be successful corporately, companies must successfully position their product(s) within the marketplace.
The intent of my proposed training program is to provide critical alignment between these two areas and clearly outline the necessary tactics to provide sustainable revenue and market leading practice. Too often companies fail to understand how they will position and operate within given market segments, which often leads to misuse of resources and extended timelines, as well as underachievement of corporate revenue targets. With my experience and training, companies will be able to avoid these pitfalls and create a market leading plan positioned for long-term growth and success.
The healthcare industry and more specifically, the medical device industry within it, provides a useful example of how companies must define, differentiate and position their products in today’s market. The value proposition includes such things as an outline of risk reduction, efficacy, compatibility with other products and services and certainly, proven/safe performance. When considering the players involved, which includes the manufacturer, the patient and the provider, a ‘win-win-win’ situation must be created for all parties when outlining the value proposition. The manufacturer must gain through increased revenues and market penetration, the patient must gain through improved health outcomes and the provider must gain through reduced access to additional or repeat products and services. This is the ultimate scenario companies strive to achieve.
The use of economic outcomes is also important, not just in the healthcare industry but in many others. When defining economic benefits, companies need to consider, cost reductions when introducing a product versus current practice, the availability to reduce headcount through improved functionality, less reliance on other external providers to streamline process and ultimately the rate of return or payback period through use of the product.
If the upfront work has been done when designing a new product and careful attention has been paid to the consumer pain points that must be addressed, then defining the value proposition becomes a natural extension of the overall process and helps to integrate departments and personnel along the way.
In the coming years, it will become much more critical for companies to clearly understand the capabilities of their products and define a value proposition that is customer-centric and created with critical assessment of this target audience through on-going feedback. Not only are products becoming more complex and attempting to provide a broader range of benefits, the marketplace is also becoming much more demanding in their expectations of key elements of the value proposition, including functionality, compatibility/integration, cost reduction/savings and economic return.
The path to an effective strategy is through employee engagement within key departments and the integration of process to drive key data and analytics when developing and introducing a product to market. Employees must feel empowered to network with each other to stimulate creative thinking and then have a system to capture this information for strategic assessment. It’s no longer the singular role of marketing to assume the entire responsibility for defining an effective strategy for creation of the value proposition. And when we consider the importance of doing this effectively, it makes broader departmental/employee engagement essential.
If we return again to the healthcare industry, delivery models, reimbursement for service and treatment options are all evolving/changing. Each one has its own set of unique challenges as well as a unique definition of value that can be provided to the overall system of health delivery. More importantly, they must work together through effective streamlined integration and management. Imagine treatment options that provide ill-defined or limited health benefits with the expectation that reimbursement by third parties will be obtained, based on this, as well as limited delivery options for the patient. Certainly an unattractive and complex scenario and one that points out that ‘win-win-win’ scenario necessary for these parties and one that will only be achieved through clearly articulated benefits (health, economic, etc.) that in turn convey the contributing value to the overall system.
As we move to the future, I believe three distinct trends will continue to evolve and emerge when considering the value proposition among relevant stakeholders.
First, companies will take a much more focused and holistic approach when defining value, independent of existing products or new products to come. On-going, sustainable activity between departments will be become the norm for creation of value and dissemination of a strategy to the target market.
Second, consumer/buyers will increase their expectations of value and this will move well beyond simple performance benefit claims to much more emphasis on economic value, given more stringent and defined buying patterns. Markets are becoming much more complex and increasingly competitive, which puts buyers in a strong position to dictate a strong and effective value proposition.
Finally, social media will play a leading interactive role between manufacturers and consumers in all segments and will move beyond simple product postings and associated activities to heavy reliance on peer review and assessment. This is the most expeditious and broadly used method for consumer interaction and a very useful way to cut through competitive ‘noise’ and gain the edge when reviewing products for fit and suitability. Look for more of this activity and use through all forms of social media.
Corporate Positioning – Part 1- Year 1
- Part 1 Month 1 Internal Assessment
- Part 1 Month 2 Define Issues
- Part 1 Month 3 Target Setting
- Part 1 Month 4 Gathering Data
- Part 1 Month 5 Analyze Data
- Part 1 Month 6 Preliminary Plan
- Part 1 Month 7 Review Plan
- Part 1 Month 8 Test Assumptions
- Part 1 Month 9 Issue Resolution
- Part 1 Month 10 Implement Solutions
- Part 1 Month 11 Monitor Activity
- Part 1 Month 12 Continuous Improvement
The following list represents the Key Program Objectives (KPO) for the Appleton Greene Corporate Positioning corporate training program.
Corporate Positioning – Part 1- Year 1
- Part 1 Month 1 Internal Assessment – This first month will involve assessment and analysis of product capabilities and possibilities, through interdepartmental communication at the corporate level. Although Marketing will take ownership for the overall implementation and delivery of the value proposition plan, input from all areas will lead to a more cohesive approach towards execution. Suggested start would be with Development for outline of the expectations for the product/service, based on key inputs such as functionality, performance and efficiency. These should be mapped to show expectations against actual deliverables to start to identify where the deficiencies may be and how they should be addressed as part of the overall competitive market plan. Next, alignment with overall corporate strategy should be reviewed to determine if the product is consistent with existing direction of if there is deviation away from overall goals and objectives. If there are, then the task will be to determine if overall objectives were reasonable, given company resources and the competitive landscape. This type of assessment is critical to ensure strong positioning of the value proposition, when considering all aspects of the product and corporate plan. A final step in the assessment will be to determine if product value is linked to either existing products or planned products in the pipeline. If so, allowance will need to be made to articulate this clearly in the proposition plan, so as not to convey any misleading of confusing information to the buyer. Often compatibility with a company’s products is a key benefit within the value proposition and this can be critical feature when looking for that competitive edge regarding product differentiation.
- Part 1 Month 2 Define Issues – During the initial assessment, time would have been taken to review both product and corporate goals and objectives. This process helps to identify gaps that may impact creating of a strong value proposition and also identify resources that may be lacking when trying to achieve this goal. This next step is to select any and all issues that may have been tagged and determine the impact they may have in achieving the objective. These can not simply be identified and catalogued. They must be discussed by the team and may in fact lead to understanding misconceptions with the product/service that will ultimately impact the value proposition and positioning at market. It’s important to remember that the value proposition outlines how the product/service will solve a buyer’s problem or pain points and if this value is not connected correctly, because issues have been identified but not resolved, then the entire proposal will fall short and the company will not be seen as the lead provider of this value at market. Mapping of issues will be important and an exercise involving how the issue affects the goal(s) of the product will have the team to determine a corrective course of action. Think of this exercise as a chance to target issues and deficiencies before they can affect next steps in the process and compromise activities such as development of the plan and potential implementation. Objectivity is key and if this can not be gained by the core team, then departmental leaders must also be tasked with the process, thus confirming the importance of inter-departmental participation.
- Part 1 Month 3 Target Setting – At this stage, the team will start to formulate ideas and start to set goals for the value proposition plan. These goals will include such things as determining the effectiveness of the plan at regular intervals, to developing deeper concepts that support product benefits throughout its’ lifecycle. Questions should be asked about the process such as; “Which part of the target segment are we hoping to reach and how quickly?”, “What market and user factors could put the plan at greatest risk?”, “ How will users be assessed and what will determine a positive outcome of the plan?” , “What value proposition benefits are missing or have been poorly defined?”, and, “What impacts can be expected for other departments and how will they be addressed?”. These questions and more will help to outline relevant goals for both the plan and the organization itself. Determination of goals should also include tangible and intangible benefits to be measured concerning the buyer. Tangible would include any quantifiable and process driven outcomes. Intangible would be directed at soft benefits, such as comfort levels when using the product or any emotions that may result from product use. It’s important that the company includes all possible scenarios to determine relevant goals for the program. This activity can also be viewed as risk mitigation as to those activities and events that may undermine or compromise key goals and objectives. We must remember that goals are those things the company needs to outline that determine the success of not just the plan, but ultimately the product or service itself. If they are not properly defined and don’t reach the buyer in a useful way, then analysis will lead to meaningless data when determining the effectiveness of the plan.
- Part 1 Month 4 Gathering Data – Collection of market data is critical to determining how best to position the product/service and defining a clear value proposition. More important is gaining a perspective on the changing trends and conditions that define the market and how they will impact that same product/service. In today’s highly competitive markets, these changes are frequent and rapid, so initial assessment will need to followed-up as part of the monitoring process. When obtaining data, goals and objectives should be kept in mind so meaningful information is returned and in alignment with these targets, as part of overall product and corporate mission. If this is not done, it may be difficult to interpret the data and make sound decisions about content and direction of the value proposition. A further suggestion is to review the value statements made by close competitors as these may have an impact of development of the plan to articulate value to the buyer in a meaningful, market leading way. One of the key value statements concerns how economic value is conveyed and is becoming one of the leading requirements among consumers/buyers. A comparison of this among competitors within the marketplace will help to define a company’s own economic value and must consider not just data review of cost benefits, but how value translates to headcount changes, reduction of third-party reliance within the buyer’s organization and a clear idea of how revenue is enhanced through the medium to long term. Buyers use this information as part of strict purchase practice and understanding the data related to it is vital. Lastly, data collection should be conducted within the key market and buyer segments the company plans to target.
- Part 1 Month 5 Analyze Data – Data analysis is the company’s opportunity to undertake critical review of all of the market segments and buyer patterns that will influence their own product or service. Again, review should be done with a keen eye on the overall goals and objectives of the program to ensure the data is relevant and on target. Both qualitative and quantitative assessment should be made and when possible, published in easy to read graphs. The purpose here is to identify trends, significant deviations and validate early assumptions. Depending on how the data was collected, through interview, review of competitive material, surveys, etc., it may take some time to complete the analysis and define the information outline for the value proposition preliminary plan. Assigning specific review tasks to individual team members on data feedback from each of the data sources will help to expedite the process and keep the overall process on time. Another method the team may use for review is statistical analysis of the data to allow for modelling and presentation of trends in a more formal way. However, the techniques used should match the team’s experience and knowledge levels to ensure quality production. Once all of the data has been reviewed and compared against the original goals and objectives of the plan, a formal presentation to all stakeholders, including department heads, should be conducted to ensure compliance with the original assessment and allow for critical input prior to completing this module. This will allow for a seamless integration with the preparation of the preliminary plan and also allows company stakeholders to provide final input, consistent with the company-wide approach to creating solid groundwork for creation of the value proposition.
- Part 1 Month 6 Preliminary Plan – At this stage, all reviewed data has been prepared and summarized and the learned information is ready for inclusion in a preliminary plan. The first step is to identify all value proposition segments to be used. A comprehensive list includes detailed value statements on usability, productivity, compatibility, efficiency, customization and performance results, to name a few. Its important to remember that value must convey the importance, usefulness and worth of a product and can not simply be a plain statement on a feature/benefit. In simple terms, we can not say a product is efficient because it ‘speeds up a process’. We need to change the statement to state that ‘speeding up the process puts less demand on other resources and allows the user to perform other tasks, simultaneously or otherwise and provides ‘X’ $’s savings on headcount for the process’. In essence, the company must include a logical and detailed link between a value segment and the expected outcome (original goal/objective). This is part of good positioning with the target audience and ultimately, product success at market. The plan should be flexible enough to include revisions and updates based on further review of each segment, as well as additional input from other departments. This is a dynamic document and one that will evolve as it moves closer to implementation. Also, as with many new products, final adjustments/changes to the product prior to commercial launch may well affect the claims/statements made on some of the value segments. This must be taken into account during the team process of developing the plan.
- Part 1 Month 7 Review Plan – Once the preliminary plan has been prepared and all segments of the value proposition completed, its necessary to review each segment both individually and also in conjunction with the other value segments. The best way to conduct this part of the program is through SWOT analysis with the marketing team and other department heads. Strengths of the plan can be quickly identified and allocated to one section. Weaknesses need to be revisited and will involve some challenge by team members to determine if the original segment was on target or not with the product plan or are weaknesses a result of inconsistencies with other value claims or market findings. Opportunities discovered through review present the best chance for a company to truly drive further/deeper on the value segment(s) to give the company that competitive edge as the product of choice. This what this section is really about and the team needs to take every advantage to optimize positioning. Finally, Threats should create a full stop with the team with the basic questions about how threats were created within the plan and what other segments do they affect. There is no choice here but to completely revisit the claims made and look at the outcome of a perceived threat, in tandem with the original data analysis. If sufficient information does not alter the situation, a re-work on a particular value segment will be required. This process can prove to be exhaustive and at times, team agreement or compromise may be difficult to achieve. It’s important to stay true to the original goals and objectives and ultimately produce a plan which has the best possible value segments that will be received favourably by the target market/buyer/user.
- Part 1 Month 8 Test Assumptions – Common in many industries, including healthcare and its related segments, are external alpha and beta testing programs to validate new product performance claims within a defined segment of market users. These programs are designed to obtain specific feedback against a company-generated review plan and give the company time to make and implement required changes to satisfy the user. This is also a time when marketing claims, such as the value proposition, can be tested to provide useful feedback and allow changes and updates, prior to full commercial launch. The alpha program is essentially the prototype phase and provides the opportunity for marketing to test the preliminary plan against product performance. Changes to the plan can then be made as necessary and a second opportunity, at the beta or pre-commercial phase, will help to ensure plan assumptions were correct and ensure the plan is on point with the commercial launch. Time spent during these two programs also presents the opportunity for internal testing of assumptions, as department heads will be gaining feedback against the user review plan and can easily provide input against the value segments within the preliminary plan. The result is assumptions are tested and validated both internally and externally, giving the plan depth of experience, prior to full implementation. One additional avenue marketing has is conducting pre-launch user meetings or focus groups to test assumptions on both product performance and the related value claims it plans to use at rollout. These can be very useful and when conducted by independent third parties, can provide a thorough assessment of all plan components.
- Part 1 Month 9 Issue Resolution – In my experience, a company can never ask too many questions and during this phase, questions should be asked about all segments accomplished to date, to ensure the value proposition plan is sound and provides the company with enough leverage to be seen as the product/service of choice within the marketplace. Questions asked will help to ensure all goals have been satisfied prior to implementation. The team needs to revisit the original goals and objectives that were formulated by all team members and ensure they are consistent with product capabilities and a sustainable product/corporate position at market. Issues that were identified early should be cross-checked against the proposed plan to ensure the gap analysis was thorough and nothing was missed or left unexplained. Data that was collected should undergo a final review to be certain the right information was collected and that is in-line with the goals that were set for the value proposition segments. Further, question the analysis of the data and determine if further assumptions can be made or if additional questions need to be answered. The plan should be reviewed from the user perspective and feedback gained during the testing of assumptions given another critical review. At this point, team members should be comfortable that all aspects of the value proposition plan have been adequately resolved, giving implementation every chance to succeed. This is not say there will not be future changes and updates. That’s the nature of a product’s lifecycle and this will in turn affect the value segments downstream. However, there should be collective thinking that the right questions have been asked and answered and no doubts remain as to the plan’s viability.
- Part 1 Month 10 Implement Solutions – At this stage, the plan is implemented with the commercial launch of the product/service. The launch itself and rollout of the plan should be done in a phased format at first versus to the broader market, to help gain initial rapid feedback to make changes and modifications as necessary. User feedback should be used to ensure that value segments are being correctly received and well understood. Any misconceptions can potentially be seen as the company making false claims, which will damage market penetration activities and overall product success. The phased rollout can therefore be segmented in several ways to help gain this valuable feedback. Buyers/users can be segmented by geography, perhaps using a 500 mile radius of customers to start to allow for easy contact, both electronically and in-person. Optimal company size can be determined so feedback is gained among key users and departments in a timely fashion. If the companies are too large, gaining information can be tedious. Simple mechanisms for feedback should be put in place to allow for feedback, including on-line surveys and telephone/email follow up. Assuming positive response from this early segmentation, the product/service rollout can be expanded until all segments have been reached. Also important during the early rollout phase is obtaining and using customer/user testimonials to help seed future market activities and ultimately drive sales. This information can be shared through the company’s web site, at trade shows and conventions and most specifically through social media. Successful implementation requires a coordinated team effort, particularly if multiple markets are being developed and teams are diverse. Regular updates and meetings with team members is essential to ensure implementation is successful and is consistent with overall corporate objectives. Updates to the company leadership team should be done weekly to start and then move to monthly and quarterly.
- Part 1 Month 11 Monitor Activity – The monitoring to obtain customer/user feedback through phased implementation must continue through the balance of the commercialization phase. The feedback and information obtained will be vital to the on-going success of the program and help to make changes and corrections in advance of any market compromising issues. Traditional surveys and user input mechanisms should continue, but the implementation of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and metrics should be implemented to more accurately monitor direction and program success. Typical marketing KPI’s include email performance, including open rate, click through rate and conversion rate, social media reach using analytics provided by the individual sites, web site traffic which indicates potential leads for a company’s product/service and tracking of those that turned into qualified leads. These are typical marketing KPI’s and should also be supported by sales KPI’s including sales by region, total monthly sale growth, sales by contact method and lead conversion rate, to name a few. Marketing and sales typically work together when collecting and reviewing this data, which allows for changes and updates on strategy as needed. Essentially, the more data that can be obtained, the better off the program will be and of course, sales for the product/service. Review should take place on a regularly scheduled basis and results shared with all team members, including company leaders and department heads. Remember, this is a holistic approach and program value comes from input from all members. An additional step, which many companies consider, are regional user meetings to gain feedback and track product and program success in the field. Although expensive, they offer the chance for direct user to company input and can also be a platform for launch of new products and services.
- Part 1 Month 12 Continuous Improvement – In this phase, continuous improvement should be part of a company’s overall quality strategy and should involve the quality team for both product and program performance. Some companies take this phase very seriously and implement programs such as Six Sigma for company-wide quality management methods. The important takeaway here is quality methods drive improvement and in-turn, success at market. Today, ISO strategies are vital and in many industries, including healthcare and its segments, such as device and diagnostics, operating without ISO certification is not an option and will prevent commercialization of products in many global markets. Given all of this, continuous improvement through quality systems and practice is not driven solely by data obtained from market observation and user interaction. It often comes from within companies, through the very employees who have been in product and program development. They are closest to all relevant activity and information along with issues and problems that can affect the quality program. Further, input to facilitate change is often achieved in small, incremental steps versus large shifts in product functionality/performance and program elements. This is not a race but a platform for slow and steady progress and innovation, the pillars of good quality practice. The other important fact to remember is incremental change is often less costly and time consuming than making significant change in product or program direction. In this time of cost containment and lean manufacturing practice, this thinking is essential and will lead to better company health. Empowered employees and team members will step up and see this an opportunity to make a difference when striving for product success.
Effective program planning involves the engagement of key stakeholders with the company, often including senior management, department heads, external advisors and in some cases, board members. Given the planning can be viewed as somewhat of a strategic exercise, it’s important to have the input of these individuals as program objectives are linked to corporate goals. Also included would be potential customers, as they provide perspective from the market side. First steps would involve a needs assessment to gather and review data. Based on this review. priorities would then be set to determine which needs can and should be addressed. Next would be to define potential outcomes and objectives and decide on how and what will be used to monitor and assess these variables. A framework or graphic representation can be used to map this process, which helps to understand how details relate to one another and also identifies gaps in procedure and process. Goals and objectives within the framework need to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and completed in timely fashion. Finally, data review resulting from the framework should be completed using collection methods that involve all parties and involve critical observation to validate all assumptions. A review of all findings should then be provided to key stakeholders for final discussion and assessment. This completes the planning cycle and ensure all parties have been included throughout the process. Worthwhile to note that program planning won’t be effective if stakeholders are not willing to test the boundaries and limitations of their assumptions, particularly when needs are identified and priorities are set.
Once goals and objectives have been identified from those involved in the planning process, they are transferred to a core team for creation of an outline to be used during the development process. In this case, we’ll use marketing as the core team to further expand upon these priorities to set a course of action towards adoption and then implementation. Budgets and timelines will need to be decided and tested against the outcome of the planning process, with respect to the original needs assessment and data review. Review of the target audience will be required to ensure development plans correctly align the planning process with the behaviour, actions and expectations of this group. Locations for rollout will need to be reviewed as they will be an integral part of implementation and learning and feedback may be required from these locations prior to full scale rollout. Any additional needed resources will also need to be identified as part of development as this may involve both internal and external sources. Once these activities have been accomplished, content can be created and then reviewed by team members to ensure there is a match between original objectives and market assumptions. The final step in program development, prior to implementation would be a formal presentation of the development plan to the original stakeholders. This provides a forum for final review and assessment, which often leads to revisions, changes and updates by the core team. Its also a safety step as implementation to the broader marketplace without final assessment prior to deployment can lead to budget overruns and misalignment with the intended target audience. Its also a chance for department heads to ensure there is alignment with inter-departmental goals and objectives, as originally defined.
Once the program has been developed and approved, its important that all stakeholders and core team members completely understand what is being deployed and what their role will be. Formal communication should be circulated to all team members. Following this, all team members should be trained on the program and monitoring methods for program success implemented to track progress. This can be done by a number of methods with the target audience including surveys, telephone follow-up and user meetings and should be done based on a regularly schedule basis, managed by all team members. This is to ensure goals and objectives are being met and provide the opportunity to make any needed changes or revisions to them. Consideration should be given to a phased rollout of the program, which allows time for the team to make changes and revisions, prior to broader market rollout. Segmentation of a phased rollout can be done by customer size, customer location and/or customer usage patterns. Given a regular schedule of feed back and time allotted for changes and revisions, this makes the most sense for a structured implementation. Finally, during this time of rollout monitoring, the original stakeholder group should be included in understanding of the feed back data and have the opportunity for input during the balance of implementation. Given this is part of a broader strategic effort, it makes sense to close the loop and keep everyone engaged. The success of program implementation is driven by active and scheduled communication and with external and internal stakeholders, to collect relevant data and make needed changes in a timely manner. This positions the company for a formal review process as the next critical step.
This phase is a natural extension of the monitoring and data collection that was obtained through target audience feedback during implementation, performed in a more formal manner. A review panel from core team members should be formed to conduct review and assessment of this data and make recommendations for broader rollout of the program. Its important at this stage to conduct the review with the original goals and objectives front and center to ensure alignment has been achieved and ensure the necessary adjustments are made for further delivery. The best way to undertake this process is through SWOT analysis, examining each program element to determine if they are ‘hitting the mark’. Strengths of the program will be apparent based on positive feedback during the implementation stage. The question here is, can they be further improved for more effective delivery? Weaknesses obviously suggest a return to the original objectives and care should be taken to determine if these weaknesses are common across all target segments or confined to one specific area, based on rollout parameters. Opportunities represent areas where not only can improvements be made, but perhaps other program elements can be introduced that were not originally contemplated. And, finally Threats need to be taken in context as to their immediacy and how extensive they are with respect to potential impact on the entire program. A summary of this SWOT analysis should then be formerly presented to the original stakeholders within the company, as the program was part of the broader strategic mandate with respect to product and corporate positioning.
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Medical devices as we know them today first emerged during the mid to late 19th century. First instruments included the introduction of the ophthalmoscope to view the interior to the eye and the laryngoscope to view the inside of the throat and larynx. Closely following was the discovery that radiation could penetrate solid objects, such as bone and tissue, which lead to the invention of x-rays to view the body without surgery. They became popular during the World War II and were used to diagnose respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, pleurisy and tuberculosis. Early in the 20th century, technological advancements lead to the development of surgical procedures performed in tandem with devices such as the respirator and the heart-lung bypass machine. These devices and others also closely tracked with the development of clinical diagnostic tests, such as those used to assess diabetes, kidney disease and others. Most of the growth within the medical device market has been seen within the past 5 to 6 decades given advancements in technology for medical applications. Some of the more significant devices include; moving from the standard microscope to the electron microscope, giving a 3D view of intracellular dimensions, using computer technology to store and track digital pictures and records (PACS) as well as performing robotic surgery and perhaps most significant of all, the application of engineering technology to development the magnetic resonance imaging machine (MRI) and the CT scanner. Technology had a tremendous impact in many other areas and has lead to additional devices such as prosthetic body parts used as heart valves and reconstructive skeletal joints for hips and knees. Indeed, the introduction during this time frame has been the catalyst to scores of new and innovative devices, more so than the world had seen in many, many centuries.
The US currently leads the world market in revenues with approximately $180 billion USD annually. This represents over 40% of the global market and growth rates are expected in excess of 5% per annum with revenues to reach $210 billion USD by 2030. Global projections are nearly $600 billion USD for the same period. One of the key growth areas is digital health care by way of the internet, artificial intelligence and machine learning. This includes small handheld and wearable devices. New partnerships have been formed between digital health companies, payers and care providers and includes such notables as Apple, Google and Microsoft. Examples of these partnerships include devices for the patient/consumer market for simple tests like urinalysis and blood work. This can also be considered part of the point-of care (POC) testing market as devices merge with diagnostics. Smart devices are another example as the internet is used to connect to glucometers, blood pressure monitors and cardiac monitors (halters) for results transmitted to healthcare provides via smartphone. This is all part of the patient empowerment revolution for monitoring and assessment of various disorders. The internet connectivity market for medical devices is one of the major drivers for growth for small to medium size medical device companies with an expected growth rate of over 25%, or $60 billion by 2023. This innovation is not without its challenges as the industry builds. Legislative changes in the US have seen the introduction and subsequent refinement of taxes and fees on medical device companies. More pressing is regulatory change occurring within the FDA as well as the EU with more pressing guidelines for safety and quality standards. Equalling pressing is the impact of US/China trade activities and higher tariffs. Collectively imports and exports total nearly $10 billion USD annually Finally, the use of the internet as a connectivity tool leads to cybersecurity issues and the potential for data breaches and compromised patient records.
There is no doubt innovation through use of the internet, artificial intelligence and machine learning will continue to drive robust growth within the industry for years to come. Investors, payers, providers and patients alike are all bullish on current trends and this paints a solid picture for the health of the industry. Several key trends are emerging as we move through the current decade. First, the FDA has outlined a new path for how it will work with manufacturers. This will be done through a digital interface using the cloud to accommodate the enormous volume of data required to manage both current approved devices as well as highly innovative devices of the future. Second, medical device manufacturers will increasingly rely on contract manufacturing organizations (CMO’s) due to higher operational costs. Estimates are for an 8.5% growth rate with over 90% of manufacturers indicating they plan to increase their use of CMO’s. Third, the Medical Device Single Audit Program (MDSAP) is gaining acceptance towards a harmonized regulatory approval process. At the moment, use of an accredited third-party auditor for single audit device approval includes the US, Canada, Brazil, Japan and Australia. This means fewer regulatory audits and faster access to market within these member countries. Fourth, data will become a revenue generator as the industry adopts disruptive technologies such as predictive analytics, cloud use, blockchain, AI and others. Health care data is predicted to have an annual growth rate of 36% through 2025, faster than manufacturing and financial services. Finally, innovation and development in digital devices has lead the FDA to develop fast-tracked regulatory pathways for digital devices, known as the Digital Health Software Precertification to ensure timely access to these products. These key trends will continue to define the industry, leading to an exciting future for all parties.
Early assessments began in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia where physicians made observations of clinical symptoms and used such techniques of body palpitations and descriptions of dysfunctions in the digestive tract, heart and menstrual disturbances. They also used observation of bodily fluid, such as urine, to record color, odour and attraction of insects. The Greeks, lead by Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine”, also examined body fluids as well as listening to the lungs and observing skin colour. When it came to disorders such as kidney disease, he related the appearance of bubbles on the surface of urine to kidney disease as well as blood and pus in the urine. As we progress through time, ‘water casting’ or uroscopy became popular for the observation of urine as a diagnostic aid. Diagnosis took a huge leap with the invention of the microscope in the 17th century and opened the door to the invisible world within the body and more extensive review of blood, urine and tissue. In the 18th century, the study of the shape of the skull or phrenology was used to determine mental faculties and character. This was inconclusive science and often considered a scam. This was also the time when the first medicines were used to treat illness, such as digitalis and opium. Analysis of blood and the birth of coagulations tests was also discovered at this time in England and the first tests, such as prothrombin time were introduced as well as the separation of blood products. Fast forward to the 19th century and the first hospital laboratories were established for quantitative diagnosis of diseases such as tuberculosis, cholera, typhoid and diphtheria. Physicians also began to study pulse, blood pressure, body temperature even though instruments to measure these vital signs were not developed until the end of the century. By the end of the century, a range of chemical and bacteriological test emerged and as well as broader use of microscopy and now x-rays. These advancements and more lead to the clinical laboratory we now know today.
There are more than 4000 different diagnostic tests on the market today, divided between the clinical laboratory and growing and expanding point-of-care (POC) testing market. The POC market is expected to show significant growth given a growing geriatric testing population and the ability for these tests to provide immediate results. Examples of these test include HbA1c and blood glucose for diabetes management. lipid panel for cholesterol-related disease such as heart disease and Troponin to diagnose heart attacks both in the emergency room and remotely. The POC market has produced a decentralization trend in the industry as we look towards early and preventative diagnosis as well as lower costs. Key factors driving the broad clinical diagnostics market include the rate of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart, prostate and colorectal disease as well as growing demand and awareness by patients for health self-involvement. The global clinical laboratory services market, which offers these diagnostic tests, was valued at $235 billion USD in 2018 and with a forecast CAGR of 6.1% from 2019 through 2025. Microbiology and cytology segments are estimated to grow at 7% over the same timeframe given a large increase in infectious diseases. The clinical chemistry segment held a 45% share of revenue over the same period and will also grow substantially given advances in endocrinology and specialized chemistry testing. Challenges to the market include poor regulatory standards for diagnostic tests in many countries as well as lack of adequate reimbursements. A growing trend, particularly in the POC segment, is a patient pay model as these tests become more widely available, including through local pharmacies around the world. POC tests are also becoming standard for monitoring and ensuring drug compliance.
In addition to the robust and growing POC segment of the clinical diagnostics market, clinical lab automation will produce significant revenue in the coming years. Major players who influence this segment include; Beckman Coulter, Becton Dickinson, Bio-Rad, Tecan, Roche and Abbott to name a few. Indeed, the current pandemic has seen the entrance of both POC and rapid, automated tests for COVID-19. This will continue as we move through the next phase of this global issue. As mentioned, chronic and infectious disease as well as an aging population will be the key drivers in all segments of this market. Access to testing, which has improved dramatically around the globe in recent years will also continue to improve as will product quality and a wide variety of tests across all clinical laboratory segments. By way of clinical example, a report by the World Health Organization nearly 18 million people die each year due to cholesterol-related heart disorders. This is partially due to sedentary lifestyles in the elderly, but also due to available testing in some parts of the world as well as intervention therapy post diagnosis. In the US, the American Heart Association estimates approximately 2300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day. An astounding statistic and one that can be better addressed through POC testing. However, next to cancer, infectious diseases are considered to be one of the leading causes of death around the globe. Respiratory diseases, such as COVID-19 are the most deadly and the availability of cost effective tests related to this as well as AIDS and Hepatitis C will lead market demand.
At the heart of biotechnology is the manipulation or transformation of living organisms (biology) to create new products or processes. Classical Biotech, in its simplest form, has been around for centuries. Using yeast to leaven bread, fermentation for brewing and cheese making and using algae to make cakes are all long-standing examples of early biotechnology. Today, we think of Mendel and his early experiments manipulating DNA in plants. But in fact, applications extend from agriculture to medicines. Some more recent examples include genome sequencing in a bacteriophage, polymerase chain reaction to amplify a segment of DNA, popular in clinical diagnostics and the more famous example of Dolly the sheep, who was cloned in 1996 as part of the Human Genome Project. Looking at some more specific examples over the past decade, we find several coming from the field of medicine in the treatment of disorders. These include encoding a new version of a neurotoxin produced by bacteria for use in medical and cosmetic procedures, discovery of a protein to aid neuronal infection of the virus that causes hand, foot and mouth disease, a tissue engineering breakthrough allowing growth of muscle cells from non- muscle cells and finally, using intestinal bacteria to control the genes in our cells and potentially fight off infection and cancer. There are many others over the years, but these examples show the power of biotechnology to harness cellular and biomolecular processes to improve our lives. More importantly, biotechnology breakthroughs have helped to fuel the research efforts of major drug companies to develop new therapies for a variety of health conditions and disorders.
The biotech industry continues to grow and expand and is now responsible for over 700 public companies and $140 billion USD in revenue. 450 of these companies are in the US and in 2015 they accounted for nearly $115 billion in revenue. Aside from biopharmaceutical applications, with Humira from AbbVie being the best example, others include agriculture and industry, including nanotechnology, enzymes and biofuels. In the US, 89 million acres of corn crops are biotech crops. This compares with 190 million hectares worldwide from 2003 to 2018. Again, in the US, the San Francisco and Los Angeles/Orange County areas generate the highest amount of biotech revenue. Top biotech companies in the world include Gilead Sciences, Novo Nordisk, Amgen and Biogen. Average annual R&D spending among these companies is close to $2.5 billion USD. In 2019, over 4500 biopharma medicines were in preclinical development in the US drug pipeline with 1120 being developed to treat cancer, the fastest growing segment, just ahead of diabetes. Biotech funding from the NIH topped $6.5 billion USD in 2017 and continues to increase year over year. Similarly, over $25 billion USD was invested by bioscience venture capital between 2016 and 2019 in the US. This indicates a very favorable market for continued investment and current investments show many companies with significant resources to complete the necessary studies to advance new therapies. The goal is to reduce the timelines associated with drug development and pending regulatory hurdles, market these products either independently or in tandem with the branded pharmaceutical companies to gain the necessary market penetration and patient acceptance.
Biotechnology is becoming a large and routine part of our everyday lives. It already affects the clothes we wear, the food we consume and the medicines we take to keep us healthy. It’s safe to say it is best positioned to respond to society’s challenges and of dealing with an aging and growing global population, healthcare, resource efficiency, food diversity, climate change and energy challenges. To reach its true potential, the industry needs government decisions that support policy changes and risk-taking as well as education that biotech is creating a better world through a healthier, greener and sustainable economy. The challenge now is to maintain to momentum to increase industry value and the millions of jobs worldwide who contribute to its economic value. Biotech in healthcare already benefits more the 400 million patients globally and will only increase given the innovation within the sector. Industrial biotech is helping to fight global warming as an alternative to a safer form of global energy, in tandem with wind and solar power, while reducing CO2 emissions. Agricultural biotech also reduces CO2 emissions while producing food with fewer toxins. Simply put, biotechnology is one of the most exciting global industries and offers society and investors significant rewards. The greatest area of advancement is in the development of new drugs and treatments to benefit patients suffering from both common and complex health issues. Estimates indicate that within a few short years, medicines that come from biotech will be greater than 50% worldwide. Possible to say that biotechnology may lead to a world without cancer, AIDS, heart disease or even diabetes.
The modern pharmaceutical industry began in the early 1800’s with the evolution of the apothecary, offering traditional remedies from ancient cultures. It wasn’t until the latter half of the 19th century that the industry we know today evolved, with the integration of centuries of plant-based experimentation and production techniques born from the industrial revolution. Three of the earliest companies to produce medicines included Merck in 1827, GSK in 1842 and Pfizer in 1859. Early products included alkaloids, painkillers and antiseptics. Also worth noting was the emergence of Bayer in 1863, the developer of aspirin, still one of the most widely used painkillers in use today. Moving forward to the early 20th century, two significant breakthroughs were seen and are considered to be the forerunners of the industry as it is known today. The first was the discovery of insulin by Frederick Banting. Insulin is of course widely used today to treat diabetes, which was once a fatal condition. It was Eli Lilly that was able to produce and market the remedy as a suitable treatment. The second discovery was the monumental discovery of penicillin by Alexander Florey in 1928, to treat infections. Merck, Pfizer and Squibb were the early producers of the medicine, first used to treat soldiers during World War II. Like many industries, the pharmaceutical industry was not without its challenges. Perhaps the most significant was the Thalidomide tragedy in 1961, which produced birth defects in thousands of women. This led to an amendment by the FDA in 1962 which called for proof of efficacy and most importantly, complete disclosure of known side-effects. Also worthy of note was the shift from ethical pharmaceuticals to over-the-counter remedies. This revolution occurred mid 20th century with options for cold and flu treatment and topical pain killers leading the way.
The industry is currently dominated by 10 companies controlling approximately 1/3 of the global market. As previously noted, the roots for the industry began in Germany, which is now over $500 billion USD annually, with six of these companies located in the US. The approximate cost to research and develop a new drug is close to $1 billion USD and takes years of effort to complete. Thus the industry’s continued call for improved patent timelines prior to availability for the generic market. By way of useful facts and figures, branded drugs shared over 80% of total US market revenue, US spending on medicines in 2019 was over $500 billion USD and US manufacturing gross output was near $220 billion USD. The top three therapy areas were oncology, antidiabetics and autoimmune diseases. In 2019, these comprised nearly $200 billion USD in spending. The top pharmaceutical products by prescription included atorvastatin with 118 million prescriptions in 2019 and 663 million prescriptions for antihypertensive drugs in the same year. The top branded medicine based on US sales was Humira, a biopharmaceutical drug for arthritis that reached$21 billion USD in 2019. It is worthwhile to comment on the generic drug industry, which as been growing steadily during the past several decades as branded medicines come off patent. During the period 2005 through 2019, generic drugs accounted for 86% of prescriptions in 2019 versus 50% in 2005. Branded drug prescriptions were approximately 10% in 2019 versus 40% in 2005. This is due to more branded medicines coming off patent during this same period and lower costs for generic alternatives, a standard option for most health insurance plans. In the US, Teva, Mylan and Novartis are the top generic drug makers. Levothyroxine is the top generic drug based on prescriptions dispensed and is used to treat hypothyroidism. Many patients believe physicians are under pressure from both branded and generic pharmaceutical companies to prescribe drugs, thus elevating healthcare budgets and expenditures.
By 2023, total North American pharmaceutical sales numbers are expected to reach over $625 billion USD. This will make the region the highest in global sales. China is expected to spend $170 billion USD, putting it in second place. The top three branded medicines are expected to be Keytruda, Humira and Eliquis. Biologic drugs are expected to show impressive growth through 2028, with Humira leading the way. Also on the rise are cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals, expecting to grow to $25 billion USD in 2025 and potentially $50 billion USD in 2029. Acceptance by the US and other governments will be key to this growth. These types of drugs have potential treatment applications for cancer pain, glaucoma, and epilepsy. And let’s not forget the potential for gene therapy, currently at the forefront of many pharma agendas. As we move towards more preventive therapies, pharmaceutical companies will need to accept technology as a necessary component of the treatment routine. This includes pairing medicines with personal diagnostic products to improve both drug compliance and health outcomes. The best examples of this include monitoring blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes and monitoring cholesterol levels in patients with hypertension and heart disease. A number of diagnostic devices exist for both of these conditions. Also, managing and monitoring patient outcomes for cancer patients is gaining significant traction as digital technology is used to capture key data as part of the survivorship model both during and post treatment. Finally, the traditional long and expensive R&D model is being challenged by a new option through merger and acquisition of smaller biotech companies to help improve ROI. As the biotech industry continues to grow, so too will the appetite for large pharma to acquire these companies to develop their pipelines.
Healthcare began at home with the treatment of disease through the use of plants. And herbal remedies. Although this practice is still used today in some cultures, such as the Chinese, Indian and Persian cultures, it evolved to the practice of pharmacology, based on observation of medical formulations and their effects on the body. Through the 19th and 20th century, as a result of British colonization and the evolution of public health for disease prevention, technology began to drive advances and gave rise to early medical devices, x-rays and most importantly penicillin for the treatment of infection and disease. Independent governments began to work towards protecting individuals from infectious diseases through surveillance methods, which lead to significant gains in prevention and treatment. Overtime, with the advent of diseases such as Malaria, Tuberculosis and Smallpox, different societies, populations and countries worked together to eradicate these diseases and lead to a unified effort across cultures and development of organizations like the World Health Organization and the World Health Assembly. Healthcare and economic progress merged in the post-World War era with the realization that this would benefit a broad, global society and create a platform for the development and advancement of medical practice. Unfortunately, early efforts did not improve health outcomes for the poor and tended to cater to the wealthier minority given ‘local’ government methods and handling of resources. Overtime and as societies have evolved and developed in local economies, there have been improvements with better allocation of resources and development of disease-specific programs for the broader population. Also, government regulators, like the FDA, introduced standards to support safer and more useful medicines and devices to support improved health outcomes within the population.
Today, healthcare is one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the world, dominated by many diverse and specialized organizations in the pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostic industry for the treatment of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and more recently, the global coronavirus pandemic. However, despite significant advancements in technology, increased spending and better standardization of health methods, governments are faced with crippling deficit budgets to support a potentially unsustainable trend in health delivery. In the US, healthcare is more than 18% of GDP with the average being 10% in most developed countries. US per capita spending is over $10,00 USD. In 2018, the global health industry was worth $8.5 trillion USD and spending could top $10 trillion USD annually by 2022. There are approximately 800,000 companies in the US healthcare sector with McKesson being the largest at $210 billion USD in annual revenues. Currently, 2/3 of US physicians believe IT can help reduce the burden of care on doctors and nurses and it is understood IT can lower costs and improve efficiencies by $100 billion USD per year. Several trends are emerging in the world of healthcare. First, practitioners are becoming much more patient-centric and empowering patients with tools to improve their clinical experience is becoming the norm. Next, social media, something we all experience every day, is being used to improve the quality of care and allowing providers and practitioners to reach out to the broader community with proactive messaging and response tools. Digitalization is being used to aggregate patient data and helping to cut costs by treating patients sooner. Vitaly important as our population continues to age and early intervention replaces advanced disease treatment. Also In the mix is telemedicine, used to diagnose and treat patients in rural areas. Finally, addiction treatment is now at the forefront of clinical practice with many countries beginning to realize the economic, social and clinical importance of dealing with this growing problem.
As mentioned, healthcare costs continue to rise, populations continue to age, patient expectations continue to change and healthcare is forced to look at new delivery models and integration of advanced digital technology. Spending is forecast to rise at 5% through 2023, which only compounds the impact of current spending on budgets and the efforts of insurance providers to keep up with consumer demand for eligibility of improved products and services. One of the fundamental keys will be a shift towards prevention and early intervention. Diseases such as colorectal cancer, diabetes and prostate care have already started to experience this model with the advent of products and services which are now in the hands of an empowered patient, working hand in hand with the practitioner to drive early and improved outcomes. Smart devices and technology will continue to drive innovation in this area. Equally important will be the need to work within the boundaries of existing acre facilities rather than expanding to new locations. This can be accomplished through investment of virtual care technologies coupled with outreach and telemedicine programs. And let’s not forget the demands that will be placed on the need for skilled professionals as populations grow and age and digital technology provides a more profound impact on the delivery of healthcare. The three most vulnerable professions include physicians, nurses and skilled IT workers at the forefront of digital change. Consider too the methods used to educate, train, source, hire and retain these professionals and the differences that exist within various countries when dealing with these issues.
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Vancouver was named after Captain George Vancouver who arrived in the late 1700’s after the Spanish had already discovered the area. Shortly thereafter, explorer Simon Fraser arrived and both the Fraser River and Simon Fraser University were named after him. The University later went on to become a center for academic excellence and as well as part of the technology hub we know today. Vancouver was firmly put on the map when the railroad was completed in the late 1800’s and trade and exploration flourished. Not only had the Europeans found Vancouver to be attractive but trade and settlement with Asian culture began and lead to the establishment of a robust ChinaTown that still exists today. In the early 1900’s, the city’s second university, The University of British Columbia opened its doors. Like Simon Fraser University, it too became part of Vancouver’s thriving technology hub. Through the early 1900’s, Vancouver grew rapidly and became Western Canada’s main city. Worldwide attention was gained when the city hosted the 5th British and Commonwealth Games in the early 50’s and lead to the establishment of the city as a major center in North America. The building of infrastructure, establishment of sports teams and culture venues as well as continued growth in trade and tourism gave Vancouver worldwide notoriety. Traditional industries such as mining, forestry and fisheries became the mainstay of the city’s economic activity, with Vancouver becoming the head-office location for these industries in British Columbia. Since 2002 Vancouver has ranked in the top 10 for world cities to live in. Today, Vancouver is world class city situated in a stunning location beside the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by mountains and forests and truly one of nature’s most beautiful settings.
Today, Vancouver is the third largest city in Canada with a lower mainland population in excess of 2.5 million. It is also home to one of the largest maritime ports in North America and has become the city of choice for many to live as its natural beauty, diverse culture and physical location are highly desirable. It is also one of the fastest growing economies in the country and has been rated as one the most desirable places to live in the world. Traditional industries such as mining, forestry, fisheries and tourism have given way to a robust and growing technology sector with a mixture of biotechnology, medical device and diagnostic firms calling Vancouver home. At present, more than 200,000 individuals work in this sector and annual growth is approximately 2%. Strong government support, available venture and private equity capital and proximity to major markets,, such as the US and Asia, continue to fuel this growing industry. Industry support groups such as InnovateBC, New Ventures BC, VanTec and Life Sciences BC form the hub of all activity and members regularly interact with one another for new ideas, funding and commercialization opportunities. The industry is expected to grow at a healthy rate as companies develop and grow with new product opportunities in new markets. Vancouver has been compared to San Francisco and The Bay Area as the Silicon Valley of the North. The only current issue is attracting new talent to support the industry. This is due to the high cost of living and lack of local housing to accommodate workers within reasonable proximity to the office. Local governments are actively looking at affordable alternatives as they realize the value of the industry and the importance of a strong, local talent base.
As healthcare and health technology continues to evolve, so to will Vancouver with a diverse array of companies offering everything from health informatics, digital diagnostics, mobile technology and a growing demand for biotechnology related products. Home to several top rated healthcare centers, including BC Cancer and Children’s Hospital, innovation will continue to thrive as these centers have growing research and development operations that fuel future products and services in combination with improvements for active treatment methods available today. The problem these centers face, along with other centers in Canada offering Universal Healthcare, is lack of government funding for everyday services, resulting in long waits for procedures and frustrated patients. Although funding is important, more important will be value-added innovation in the delivery of service through new techniques, products and services. This innovation is often funded through other capital sources, providing the development and operational support needed. Vancouver, along with Toronto, is at the forefront of providing this innovation and will continue to lead through the medium to long term. And with much of this innovation being local, such as the promising antibody treatment for COVID 19 coming out of the University of British Columbia, it means local centers will see immediate and direct benefit once these technologies are available and approved. As previously mentioned, this innovation must be developed by an available talent pool, a hurdle within the current environment that is being actively discussed, given the high cost of living. However, experience in other countries and cities around the globe indicates that if innovative methods, products and services are being developed, funding and other solutions soon follow. The key now is to stay at the forefront of these exciting technologies.
San Francisco CA
Like its neighbor Vancouver to the North, San Francisco was discovered and settled by the Spanish in the late 1700’s, who held a strong presence until the mid 1800’s. It was the gold rush in 1848 that changed this and became a significant part of the economy for the next several years. Also, the whaling industry and early traders became part of the trading industry that defined the early beginnings of the port. Two significant events changed San Francisco. The first was a devastating fire in the mid 1800’s and a serious earthquake, causing widespread damage near the turn of the century. However, the city prevailed and rebuilt to become a thriving center of economic and cultural activity. In the early to mid 1900’s, manufacturing became a major source of income and included textiles, food processing and shipbuilding. The beginnings of the technology industry, including nearby Silicon Valley, also began with aerospace and electronics leading the way. Being a major seaport, trading with other nations fueled the manufacturing boom as products became easily obtainable. Tourism also developed and flourished with many sites and attractions bringing visitors from around the world. The Golden Gate Bridge, Cable Cars and Fisherman’s Wharf became the most popular and this is still true today. Its worthwhile to note that two famous universities were opened in the area in the late 1800’s. They were the University of California and Stanford University. These two institutions rank among the top schools in the US today and also have robust technology research centers with leading academics from around the world. These schools and their early activities contributed to San Francisco becoming one of the leading technology hubs in the US today.
San Francisco has become the lead cultural and financial enter in the western US. It’s population is diverse and strong ties exist with Mexico in the south and Asia in the Far East. Its Chinese community, one of the largest outside of China, is indeed one of the most prominent in the US and contributes to the financial and investment activities within the area. One of the most active technology centers in the country exists in Silicon Valley, in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area. There are hundreds of start-ups and existing companies in the region, ranging from high technology to heath technology and biotechnology. Familiar names such as Apple, Google and Facebook, all make this their headquarters and each is involved in health/activity-related technologies. The region is rich in available talent, infrastructure and engineering, but more importantly, it is a rich funding hub due to San Francisco’s lead in financial services. Some of the latest activities include advances in BlockChain, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, all contributing to enhanced benefits for technology users as well as patients and providers of health/medical technology. The San Francisco area has the largest network of healthcare professionals in the US and leads growth in BIoPharma and Medical Devices at an annualized growth rate of 4%. The result is a region that has a robust pipeline for new therapies and health products. It is also home to several of the best care centers in the US, including Stanford Health Care, part of Stanford University and UCSF Medical Center, the top hospital in California, with several campuses within the Bay Area. Like many centers, these medical facilities also contribute to research efforts for new treatments and procedures in tandem with start-up companies also located within the Bay Area.
San Francisco could well become the lead technology center in the US, given the growth and direction of activities within the Bay Area and Silicon Valley. A highly desirable place to live in a temperate climate, it will continue to attract world class talent, all contributing to the growth of the technology sector. Its only drawback is the high cost of living, something that many leading economies, suffer from within North America. In addition to growth in technology, the city has already embarked upon ambitious projects within several areas. These include new stadiums for major sporting events, an updated transit system and center coined as the “Grand Central Station of the West”, updates to local museums and cultural attractions across the city and even updates to world famous Fisherman’s Wharf, with better access and more activities for tourists from around the globe. All of these things contribute to making San Francisco an even more desirable location and a place where working professionals can enjoy a rewarding career in a variety of industries. If we look specifically at Healthcare and related technologies, there are nearly 75 companies within the Bay Area that will lead the next generation of products and services. These include advances in Wearable Devices, Big Data Solutions, Clinical Diagnostics, Digital Therapeutics, Electronic Health Records (EHR), Medical Devices and Care Management to name a few. The abundance of available talent as well as access to funding sources like Questa Capital (350 billion USD healthcare technology fund), in Washington DC and San Francisco, fuel innovation efforts and drive this entire economy. Look at San Francisco as a center for technology innovation for decades to come.
Chicago’s history dates back to the late 17th century, but it wasn’t truly settled until the early 19th century when the government established a fort and a settlement began to grow. It grew rapidly through 1830’3 and 1840’s and became the rail transport hub for the US. Its early economic origins came as a center for meat packing and the opening of the Union Stock Yards. Like San Francisco, it was d