To the unknown and beyond: Appreciative intelligence® in Start-up Companies

A phenomenon such as the Slush (www.slush.org) is a sign that the start-up hype is storming in Finland. Slush is an annual event for start-ups and tech talent to meet with investors, executives and media. It is organized in Helsinki in November, that is when you can get a first hand experience of slush on the streets, and in just a few years it has grown a major start-up event in Finland and in Europe. It is a part of a movement that is taking place all over the world where young educated experts set up businesses instead of looking for positions in established organizations. Slush is the focal point for start-ups and tech talent to meet with top-tier international investors, executives, and media.

The interesting question is why are well educated people ready to jump into an extremely uncertain work environment with well-known fact that most companies will fail and disappear after a couple of years. So what drives people forward to fight against the odds and all that uncertainty? With this questions in mind, I interviewed people who work in start-up companies and asked how they cope with the challenges they face in setting up a new business.

Using a framework of Appreciative Intelligence® introduced by professor Tojo Thatchenkery, George Mason University, USA, I found that the entrepreneurs were able to reframe the uncertainty in the business environment as an opportunity for personal learning and meeting exciting challenges. Also, they were able to see a quick career development as a positive potential in the situation. And finally, they were capable of acting on uncertainty and using it as an energizing and community building shared experience that fueled the entrepreneurs and their teams to make the future potential unfold in actions taken today.

According to professor Thatchenkery, people tend to reframe challenging situations in two contrasting ways – either negatively or positively. I was able to identify a tremendous amount of positive reframing in the ways the entrepreneurs perceived uncertainty in start-up business.

It appears that the start-up score high in Appreciative Intelligence® which helps them make a challenging situation into an exciting opportunity. The good news is that we can all practice Appreciative Intelligence® and put it in use in our own lives and at work.

 

Tuomas Holma

Student in Innovation Management

Thesis: To the Unknown and Beyond: Appreciative Intelligence® in Start-up Companies

Thesis supervisor: Hanna Lehtimäki

To learn more about appreciative intelligence, please visit www.appreciativeintelligence.com

How to solve the dilemma in market access delay in new medicine?

An important measure of success of a new drug is markets access delay that measures the length of the time a new medicine is accessible to patients after the R&D process has been completed. In my thesis I found out that the mean market access delay of oral cancer drugs in Finland is 2,36 years and it is becoming even longer with new drugs. Cancer patients and the patient organization regard this to be excessively too long. To many patients, every day is precious.

Patients and patient organization see that money should not be a barrier to the access for drugs that will help them to better fight cancer. However, the cost of new oral cancer medicines tends to be high. Therefore, reimbursement plays a significant part of the market access in making new oral cancer drugs accessible to all patients regardless of a patient’s economic status.

There is a pressing need to improve the process of authorizing and approving new drugs by European Medicines Agency EMA and Pharmaceutical Pricing Board PPB.

At the moment, patients feel that their voices are not heard when making decision concerning the reimbursement status of new drugs. From the patients’ perspective, they themselves are the ones having to experiences the biggest loss in the long market access delays. As noted by a representative of a patient organization, for a patient, it is an absurd situation when it is known that there is a drug that is crucial for the survival of the patient but the patient can’t get the medicine because it is not reimbursed. Due to the delay, the patient passes away.

For giving patients an equal opportunity to access new oral cancer medicines, it is highly important that new oral cancer medicines are included in the Finnish drug reimbursement system in a timely manner. However, identifying the crucial new medicines that should be quickly accessible, is difficult.

A solution may come with the upcoming Comprehensive Cancer Center Finland whose planned role would be to give clinical guidelines and give statements concerning new treatments. Also, starting this year Finland has implemented a risk sharing scheme called conditional reimbursement for allowing a faster access to new innovative drugs. These are very welcomed reforms that will hopefully improve the fast accessibility of new oral cancer therapies. Further research is needed to support shortening the market access of new drugs.

 

Matti Auvinen

Student at UEF, Business School, Health and Business

Title of Master’s thesis

Market access of oral cancer drugs in Finland: A patient and patient organization view

Thesis supervisor:

Hanna Lehtimäki

Invest in coincidence – make use of serendipity

In a modern interconnected world, you can often hear a phrase: who you know affects what you know. However, if you actually try to illustrate who you know on a piece of paper ­– the task may not be simple. If you only include your closest friends, it is plausible, but what happens when you start to map out your friend’s friends? And how about all your Facebook friends, do you have an idea how they are connected to each other? It is fair to say that the potential reach of our networks is far wider than we have ever realized.

When we apply the thought of connectedness to opportunities e.g. a new job, what appears at first sight as a happy coincidence, may be more than that. It might, in fact, be a result of our connectedness to others, the indirect ties we have through friends and acquaintances.

In my Master’s thesis, I applied network theory in internationalization of innovative business and I found that the source of business opportunities abroad was largely due to indirect ties the case company had in a far reaching business network. In the analysis, I was able to identify particular bridging ties that actually enabled the case company to receive new internationalization opportunities which, probably, wouldn’t have otherwise appeared .

The learning from this is that, in a connected world, viewing coincidences as mere random events may strikingly limit the opportunities which we might be offered in the future. Instead, it is important to create opportunities for coincidences to happen and make use of them with deliberate actions. In my study on a life sciences company, an important source for the coincidental, yet significantly beneficial, opportunities turned out to be connections to the scientific community. As a result of the study, the company started to invest more in these relationships with a new understanding of the potential reach the connections have.

Karri Koistinen

Student at UEF, Business School, Innovation Management

Title of Master’s thesis:

“Role of social capital, networks and serendipity in internationalization of SMEs”

Thesis supervisor: Hanna Lehtimäki