Science Business by Gary P. Pisano
  • Title: Science Business
  • Subtitle: The Promise, the Reality, and the Future of Biotech
  • Author(s): Gary P. Pisano
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Press
  • Year: 2006
  • ISBN-10: 1591398401
  • ISBN-13: 9781591398400


“Science Business” by Gary P. Pisano delves into the intersection of science and business, exploring how innovation and scientific knowledge drive competitiveness in modern industries. Pisano, a renowned professor and expert in innovation, argues that in today’s knowledge-based economy, scientific research and technological advancements are essential for sustaining a competitive advantage. He emphasizes the critical role of R&D in shaping successful businesses and demonstrates how companies that effectively integrate scientific expertise into their strategies can outperform competitors. Through detailed case studies and real-world examples, Pisano highlights the challenges and opportunities that arise when businesses bridge the gap between scientific discovery and commercial application. He offers valuable insights for executives, managers, and policymakers on fostering a culture of innovation, managing risk and uncertainty, and building long-term sustainable growth through science-based strategies.

Throughout the book, Pisano emphasizes the importance of establishing strong relationships between academia and industry. He argues that successful science-based businesses actively collaborate with universities, research institutions, and scientists to access cutting-edge knowledge and talent. By nurturing these partnerships, companies can tap into a rich pool of scientific expertise and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. Moreover, Pisano emphasizes the need for businesses to invest in long-term R&D efforts, even in the face of uncertainties and setbacks. He encourages organizations to adopt a patient and persistent approach to innovation, recognizing that breakthroughs often require significant time, resources, and experimentation. In “Science Business,” Pisano presents a compelling case for embracing science-driven strategies and offers actionable insights for creating a culture of innovation and research-driven competitiveness in today’s fast-paced and technology-driven business landscape.

Book Review

“Science Business” by Gary P. Pisano is a compelling and insightful exploration of the crucial role that scientific knowledge and innovation play in driving business competitiveness and success. Pisano, a Harvard Business School professor, brings his expertise and extensive research to the forefront, providing a thorough examination of the intricate relationship between science and business.

One of the key takeaways from the book is the significance of effective collaboration between academia and industry. Pisano argues that successful science-based businesses actively engage with universities and research institutions to tap into cutting-edge knowledge and expertise. He cites the example of the pharmaceutical industry, where companies like Merck have fostered fruitful collaborations with academia to develop breakthrough drugs. Pisano writes, “In a knowledge economy, the challenge is to turn university-based science into commercially valuable technologies, products, and services. This is no easy task.” He highlights how Merck’s partnership with academic researchers led to the development of drugs such as Singulair, which achieved tremendous commercial success.

The book also emphasizes the importance of a long-term perspective on research and development. Pisano provides examples of companies like Intel and IBM, which have made substantial investments in R&D over many years, leading to significant technological advancements and sustained competitive advantage. He cautions against short-termism, stating, “For businesses seeking to derive a sustainable competitive advantage from their investments in research, there are no shortcuts.” Pisano’s analysis of Intel’s strategic approach to R&D showcases how the company invested heavily in developing and refining its microprocessors over time, enabling them to dominate the market for computer chips.

Furthermore, Pisano explores the challenges companies face when trying to integrate scientific and business activities. He highlights the difficulty of balancing the needs for exploration and exploitation, as both are crucial for long-term success. Pisano states, “The innovation challenge is to manage the balance between learning, discovery, and exploration, on the one hand, and efficient utilization and exploitation, on the other.” He examines how businesses must create an organizational structure that fosters innovation while ensuring efficient commercialization of scientific discoveries.

In conclusion, “Science Business” is a must-read for business leaders, entrepreneurs, and policymakers seeking to thrive in the rapidly evolving knowledge-based economy. Through in-depth analysis and compelling examples, Gary P. Pisano makes a strong case for the essential role of scientific knowledge and innovation in driving business competitiveness and sustainable growth. By embracing science-driven strategies and cultivating strong partnerships with academic institutions, companies can unlock new opportunities and gain a competitive edge in the global marketplace. The book offers valuable insights and actionable advice on fostering a culture of innovation, managing R&D investments, and navigating the complex interplay between science and business.

Word Count: 440

Target Audience

“Science Business” by Gary P. Pisano is targeted at a diverse audience with varying interests, professions, and motivations. The book is recommended reading for the following audiences:

  • Business Leaders and Executives For business leaders and executives, “Science Business” offers valuable insights into the critical role that scientific knowledge and innovation play in driving business success. Pisano’s analysis of successful companies’ strategies for leveraging scientific research and academia to gain a competitive edge provides practical lessons for those seeking to innovate and stay ahead in their respective industries. Executives will find guidance on how to create an organizational culture that encourages both exploration and exploitation, leading to sustainable growth and profitability.

  • Entrepreneurs and Startup Founders Entrepreneurs and startup founders can benefit greatly from the book’s exploration of the importance of long-term investments in research and development. Pisano’s examination of companies like Intel and IBM, which achieved significant technological advancements through consistent R&D efforts, serves as an inspiration and model for startups aiming to disrupt markets and build lasting businesses. Understanding the strategic importance of collaborations with research institutions can help entrepreneurs build innovative products and services based on cutting-edge scientific knowledge.

  • Policymakers and Government Officials “Science Business” offers valuable insights for policymakers and government officials seeking to foster innovation and economic growth in their countries. By understanding the symbiotic relationship between science and business, policymakers can design effective policies and incentives to encourage private-sector investments in research and development. The book’s examination of successful innovation ecosystems, such as those in Silicon Valley, can guide policymakers in creating an environment that supports entrepreneurship, research, and technology transfer.

  • Academics and Researchers Academics and researchers interested in the intersection of science and business will find “Science Business” to be a thought-provoking and enriching read. Gary P. Pisano’s extensive research and analysis of real-world examples provide a comprehensive understanding of how scientific knowledge is translated into commercial value. Scholars can use this book as a foundation for further research into the dynamics of innovation, technology transfer, and the role of academia in driving business competitiveness.

In conclusion, “Science Business” is a recommended reading for a diverse audience, including business leaders, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and academics. The book offers valuable insights and practical lessons on leveraging scientific knowledge for business success, making it a valuable resource for anyone interested in understanding and navigating the complex relationship between science and business in today’s knowledge-driven economy. Whether you are a seasoned executive, a startup founder, a policymaker, or a scholar, this book provides a wealth of knowledge that can inspire, inform, and guide your journey in the world of science-driven business.