Published by Bill White , November 5th, 2015
Bill White, CEO, will present a session on Research and Development Strategies and Efficiencies at the 2015 R&D 100 Awards & Technology Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada on Friday, November 13.
Sponsored by Austin-based Advantage Business Media and R&D Magazine, the R&D100 awards identify and celebrate the 100 most technologically significant new products of the year and are considered the “Oscars of Invention.”
Sessions and panel discussions feature an impressive lineup of high-profile speakers dedicated to providing valuable insights on topics most relevant to R&D professionals in pioneering science and engineering. Included as this year’s keynote speakers are Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway Personal Transporter, and Thom Mason, Ph.D. Director, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy.
White’s presentation, “Stranded Technology: Unleashing the Potential,” details the importance of cohesive marketing strategies using conventional and new media tools to articulate the practical value of new technologies in the commercialization process.
Throughout his career, White has provided extensive technical assistance in the design, development, application and marketing of numerous applied technologies employed by the biomedical, life science and industrial laboratory community. He co-founded Offenberger & White in 1985. Today, the Marietta-based marketing company provides content development, integrated marketing and digital platform services to clients throughout the United States and in selected global markets.
Published by Bill White , May 1st, 2015
I’ve often told my students and our clients that we don’t sell perfume. That’s just selling hope.
But last week I had chance to watch hope being sold, delivered and devoured. On Sunday, April 19, 2015, the exhibit hall opened at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research at the Philadelphia Convention Center.
After a morning of walking the aisles, the intensity of this conference was revealed to me in an obscure corner of a food court above Reading Station where we escaped the exhibit floor to dine on overpriced salads and sip overpriced water. At the table next to us were two oncologists, oblivious to the lunch crowd, reviewing a case that had one puzzled and the other mesmerized. Before you call the HIPAA police, nothing about the patient was disclosed. And I really wasn’t eavesdropping. But here, in the middle of the day, two doctors from two different parts of the world were zeroed in on one patient with a rare form of cancer that demanded an audience.
These two physicians shared images as they threw ideas across the table. The only language I understood was their body language. They could have been having the same discussion in the middle of I-95 with the same focus and sense of purpose.
Today, back to their home bases, they are likely commiserating on the case that may lead to a better understanding of what might work just because they agreed on what wasn’t working.
The AACR meeting was an intersection of ideas, theories, peer reviewed outcomes and peer reviewed false starts. It was interplay of educated guesses, hunches and politics; after all, what is the chase for grant money without politics? It would be cynical to suggest these researchers work in a vacuum, more interested in science than money. There was enough entrepreneurial spirit in the exhibit hall to confirm that finding a cure for cancer would dish an economic tsunami from Wall Street around the world and back. Not all good. I will leave that cynicism for another time.
A sad byproduct of the AACR conference was meeting scientists who were presenting their last research, defending their work via a last poster session, slipping into the job fair and tucking their vanity and egos into a place that would permit them to do something . . . anything . . . to stay in the game.
For many generations the United States has led the way in government funding for primary research into cancer, a public policy boost that has given rise to hundreds of start-ups through commercialization or license agreements. Today, this funding is under enormous stress. Humanity prefers to burn down the farm and behead our hopes for the future. As always, it’s the war on cancer vs. the war on everything else. Guns and butter.
A quick look at the National Cancer Institute Fact Book reveals funding through NCI grants and research contracts leveling out and trending down over the last few years. There’s no need to perform an economic analysis of the interplay between federal funding and corporate or private equity investments in the pharma sector; it is clear that the entire equation, suitably driven by money, is undergoing changes that scientists doing basic research find hard to predict. As the weak look for jobs, the strong collect more post-docs to run their labs and the wheel goes round.
Supporting this ballet are the businesses that line the exhibit hall with new products and services that literally boggle the mind. Analytical instrumentation is more powerful than ever and the ability to see what has never been viewed on the molecular level puts another weapon into play. The war on cancer is being fought with statistics.
The public and private collaboration that steers equity capital and competitive efficiencies to and from brilliant scientists has become a core business model for some companies who find success through mutual benefit. In the spirit of the free-enterprise system, perhaps this is the perfume we need to wear, the perfume that leads us to hold hands.
There’s nothing more powerful than a scientist with a vision, the will to sacrifice for it, the strength to fight for it and the means to pursue it within an environment of open discourse among peers. With today’s light-speed communications, what happens at The James Cancer Research Center in Columbus in the afternoon can be the talk of the town in Singapore by daybreak.
The scientists are mostly anonymous, deep thinkers. But don’t let them fool you. They’re working hard, always talking, texting and creeping out of their own skin a few times a year to share ideas face-to-face over an overpriced salad, sipping overpriced water.
They also bring gifts, better than perfume. What I saw in Philadelphia was more than hope. I saw a fistfight for a fistful of dollars played out over research posters tacked to the wall with push pins and a Hail Mary. On the drive home I realized that I saw a cure for cancer in the making.
It’s on the way. I can smell it.
Published by Steven Hollis , March 26th, 2015
When Apple announced ResearchKit™ earlier this month, the new open-source medical and research framework didn’t get the same level of public attention as their Apple Watch or gold MacBook announcements. But here at OffWhite, we took note. With ResearchKit, Apple is taking advantage of their overwhelming market reach to do a lot more than encourage a billionth download of Angry Birds. This framework has the power to expand researchers' data pools to the millions of iPhones currently in use around the globe.
What is ResearchKit
Apple ResearchKit is an open source framework that allows researchers and developers to more easily develop apps built around medical research. Below is Apple’s short intro video to ResearchKit.
OffWhite has a long history of working with life science clients. For many of our projects, our target audience is mostly made up of researchers. Many of our clients are researchers themselves and most others have direct professional ties to research. An open source clinical research framework isn’t the kind of thing that most marketing groups would get excited about; the apps don’t directly generate revenue and there are no paid ads. We’re excited about the prospect of larger, more diverse pools of data and what our life science and biotechnology clients can do with this data.
We love articulating the functionality and benefits of a client’s new or improved product, and hopefully, discoveries facilitated by ResearchKit can give our clients the opportunity to improve their already stellar product lines and services.
Published by Bill White , March 19th, 2015
Last week was my 30th Pittcon meeting. My first was in Atlantic City, NJ, on the boardwalk where entrepreneurs new to marketing set up their booths with homemade displays and goofy giveaways while pipe organ music played in the background before the morning opening. The Melody Lounge beckoned across the street as an after-hours watering hole.
At the time my role at Forma Scientific was in engineering; I was in charge of technical systems documentation. As a technical writer with an English degree (and working on an economics degree at night) I quickly earned a reputation within Forma as “the guy who explains things”. I wrote operating and maintenance manuals detailing systems and components associated with a range of environmental conditions, from CO2 incubators and humidity chambers to ultra-low temperature freezers and light stability cabinets. As a former news reporter, I didn’t find much difference in explaining the function of a cascade refrigeration system than covering a city council meeting.
Several times I have experienced the evolution of an emerging growth technology company from an innovation engine to a business enterprise. My first was with Forma Scientific. Another was with Queue Systems where I was a co-founder. Fast forward to OffWhite, thirty years ago, with many client companies along the way. While technology and intellectual property remains at the heart of any growing company, nothing matters unless marketing can empower sales and turbocharge the value proposition to send a great idea into orbit. (See my earlier blog on Stranded Capital.)
Pittcon is smaller now, much different from the Wild West (East) days of Atlantic City where the hard work of launching new products and setting up an exhibit was a team effort that brought together engineering and sales with marketing and finance; ultimately, we all drove the truck. Perhaps companies such as this exist in the “New Exhibitor” aisles in the Pittcon exhibit hall and, if they do, God bless them. They’re having the most fun.
I walked the aisles, talked with exhibitors, publishers, industry association executives and even the Pittcon staff on the floor. I met with independent sales representatives, dealers, distributors from around the world and others who were entering this market for the first time. Here’s what I brought home
- Brains, Not Money Will Pave the Way OffWhite was in New Orleans for some hands-on work with existing clients. As a marketing firm we also wanted to explore where we match up with new clients who want to grow. We observed some companies spending money on marketing without solid plans in place, without clarity in desired outcomes and without a command of the marketing toolbox. We saw exhibits that shouted and screamed in graphic outbursts that would chase off a thief. The disciplined companies, large and small, stood out as professionals who offer confidence and credibility along with the next best idea. We call that branding. Once again, we concluded that you can’t buy your way into this market; you have to think your way into it.
- Training and Education is the DNA of technology marketing. If you are a marketer, you’re an educator. Placing new technologies into context amid a global environment, and empowering the newest sales or service rep hired is essential to growth. That’s the curriculum. The best customer is an educated customer.
- Digital Asset Management is like herding cats. The ability to plan, organize, inventory and maintain a portfolio of intellectual property – from trademarks and patents to value statements, images, illustrations, videos and online libraries– is the foundation for professional brand management. There is no substitute, no shortcut.
- Integration is the key to efficiency. You don’t want to spend the same money twice. What you invest in one place must apply to another, worldwide. We connect the dots.
- Content is King. This takes me back to my early days where things were simpler but much less efficient. Today, with all of the websites and social media and gnashing of teeth, content still matters first in technology marketing. I’ve often quoted Marshall McLuhan who said “the medium is the message”. Mix this idea with websites, blogs, social media, SEO, analytics and blimps with flashing lights and we’ve stepped into a fine mess. Today, we see companies spending working capital (which we monitor through our analytic programs) without any understanding of what they get in return. Leading the way down this path are so-called marketing people, either inside or outside the company, who have never had to sell a thing, never called on a customer, never been in a lab, never watched a research project die because of a product failure, never had to make a payroll, never had to strip a technology down to its fundamental processes and explain why it’s valuable to your life’s work.
- Technology Marketing is Hard. If we were selling perfume, marketing would be easy. Selling perfume is selling hope. But in our world here in the weeds there is no glamour. You either understand the product or you don’t. You can explain it or you can’t. You can spoon feed value or you can try to cram it into a bundled purchase deal where an uneducated customer has no idea what’s in store. Weeds or not, there is no place to hide in our world. Accuracy and attention to detail can be so irritating, don't you think?
Training and education. Digital asset management. Integration. Strategy. Content. Technical marketing. This is what we do at OffWhite. This is why we have continued to invest in Pittcon and other technology exhibitions each year for more than 30 years. If you need assistance in building and managing a sustainable technology marketing program in support of a global brand, we can help. Call or email Bill White, 740-373-9010.
Next up: American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), Philadelphia, April 18-22, 2015. Abby Spung and I be in the exhibit hall Monday and Tuesday, April 20-21. For a quick chat call our main office or drop us an email.
Published by Abby Spung, November 21st, 2014
More than 31,000 colleagues traveled to Washington, DC, to take part in the world’s largest marketplace of ideas and tools for global neuroscience. Among the sea of collaborators, neuroscientists, students and business representatives were my colleague Jane Cirigliano, who heads up our digital department, and me representing our creative team. Not the most obvious place for a graphic designer to be hanging around.
There were over 500 exhibitors in the hall with a constant rotation of poster sessions. As we walked along the back aisle with a former professor of neuroscience turned business owner of a company whose focus is primarily on proteins of interest in the neuroscience field, to the left I saw row after row of companies that are working hard to be noticed.
Booth after booth manned with PhDs turned marketing, sales and portfolio managers, representing products and technology. To the right I saw row after row of posters pinned to boards flanked with academics whose entire world revolves around the information contained on that 36 x 60 laminated sheet of paper. Ideas still in their infancy, bound someday (maybe) for the other side of the aisle, destined to become a cure, treatment or even a mechanisim for tracking and defining a disease, ailment or genetic disorder. A “life-saver” to someone—some, one, human being—like me or my 5-year-old autistic nephew.
Fun fact: As an intern for the Ohio University Libraries at Ohio University in the late 90s I cut my “applied design” teeth on poster sessions for these aspiring scientists, educators and soon-to-be PhDs. They would bring stacks of tables, diagrams, and copy to the media center, where I was interning as a graphic design student, and it was my job to take this stack of information and somehow fit it into that 36 x 60 space. Make it play by the rules but somehow appear unique among others.
At the time, I couldn’t have possibly predicted that my future held a position as creative director within a company whose focus is this life sciences industry. Not me. I was headed to the city to be a designer, working for a huge agency that managed brands like Limited, Coke, or some other household name. While I’ve had those opportunities, the fit was never what I expected. The reward wasn’t there—it wasn’t at all what it was cracked up to be.
But here, at OffWhite, I’ve found a crevice in this gigantic world where, when ideas are seeded and nurtured and cared for properly, they flourish and grow. Our commitment at OffWhite is to finding the ideas that matter most. We nurture them, care for them and see them quietly resolve to the things we really could not survive without.
So as we walked with this gentleman to a quiet place where we could talk and learn more about his business of building proteins and antibodies, I saw how it was – like a flash of light – that I ended up in that very spot at that very time. How I arrived here from the days of the seemingly endless stream of poster sessions that were so “not-design” projects to me. After two days, and many conversations, Jane and I are back in the office now, with a collective of innovative ideas that need fostering, and relationships to build and cultivate that may just be the cause for better quality of life for someone out there.
I love it when life gives you a hint or foreshadows what is yet to come. Rarely can we see it but from hindsight, though when we spot it, it’s our confirmation that we’re right were we belong.
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