Senior Vice President, Head of Global Research & Development Alcon
What role does R&D play in Alcon’s success?
R&D is the DNA of Alcon; it’s how we aspire to bring life-changing vision and eye care products to millions of people. It is what has helped shape our brilliant history and will shape our brilliant future.
We’ve dedicated a significant amount of our resources and funding to R&D. We continue to be among the market leaders in ophthalmic R&D investment, creating a robust pipeline that truly makes an impact for eye care professionals and patients.
We’ve made one of the largest R&D commitments of any surgical and vision care companies. I could not be prouder of leading a team of more than 1,400 associates worldwide researching and developing treatments and solutions for unmet patient needs.
In 2021, we invested $682 million in R&D, and I’m thrilled to say we currently have a rich pipeline of more than 100 products in development, including novel IOL technologies and equipment platforms, to continue to fuel our growth as a leader in eye care. Our passion is to develop the best products possible – so we pursue both internal and external innovation opportunities at all stages.
And what’s the role of the end user in your R&D process?
Effective R&D is never linear – it’s cyclical. It requires a constant feedback loop from healthcare professionals, surgeons, patients, and physicians to ensure that the solutions and technology that we bring to market actually – demonstrably – help improve people’s lives.
At Alcon, we adhere to an outcomes-based R&D philosophy. We ask ourselves: What unmet need is this solution meant to fulfill? What problem – for an individual or a broader population – is this solution meant to solve? Asking ourselves these questions helps to focus our attention and resources from ideation through commercialization.
We have a robust process that enables us to gain insight from the end user, including surgeons and other stakeholders, during the development processes. We don’t simply commercialize the solutions we think patients and eye care professionals want; we develop the solutions that meet a critical unmet need – because we’ve been deeply involved with them, bringing them along the entire R&D journey.
Further, we have increased multifunctional representation in the R&D process and are ensuring diverse perspectives are incorporated along the way. For instance, in recent trials and testing, we have modified our design approach for certain products like our hand-activated forceps to be more inclusive of women. As a historically underrepresented group in medical and clinical trials, we have secured the feedback of women surgeons during product development, taking into account physical differences in height and hand size and we plan to continue this representation moving forward.