Webcast 3 - NeoNiche Innovation Chats

Webcast 3 - NeoNiche Innovation Chats

Episode 3 Webcast: NeoStart - Chiesi’s Innovation Lab for Neonatal Care


After our last webcasts on what co-creation means and co-creating with parents of premature infants, we continue our innovation series by talking to Ricardo Castrillo, Special Care Business Director at Chiesi Group in Barcelona, Spain. Baby Living Lab’s founder, Susan Feitoza, had the exciting opportunity to chat with him and talk in detail about the company’s innovative co-creation program, NeoStart.

Ricardo Castrillo

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Ricardo is a curious pharmacist and passionate about making things happen. He holds an MBA in ESADE and has more than 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry both nationally and internationally. For the past three years at Chiesi Spain, Ricardo as Special Care Business Unit Director has been living with passion the transformation in which the company is immersed. He likes learning from, and with the people with whom he collaborates, inviting  them to explore and encouraging them to try. Bottom-up and open innovation are the steps that will take Chiesi to maintain a sustainable, competitive advantage. For more than a year he has been in charge of the innovation axis in Chiesi Spain and is part of the Digital Innovation Steering Committee at a Corporate level, spearheading the challenge to offer "Total Care", find solutions beyond treatment to improve the quality of life of our patients. 

Corporate Co-Creation Case Study - NeoStart

Chiesi’s NeoStart is one of the first true co-creation programs initiated by a corporation in which neonatal professionals and parents of premature neonates identify unmet needs and find solutions in order to improve the quality of life of preterm infants, their families, and the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) environment. The company’s intrapreneurial and entrepreneurial efforts led to the creation of the NeoStart program. Gambling on disruption from a diverse team outside its corporate walls, Chiesi has been the first to jump-start this type of innovation in neonatal care.

Ricardo Castrillo is the driving force spearheading Chiesi’s innovation and entrepreneurship process from within. Chiesi, a multinational pharmaceutical company based out of Parma, Italy, has 5000 employees around the world. It is one of the leaders in, not only neonatal care therapies, but also other therapeutic areas, such as hepatology, pneumology, and nephrology. It leads in the treatment of respiratory distress syndrome in premature infants. Ricardo describes how Chiesi Espana identified innovation, specifically “entrepreneurship”, as one of its important pillars moving towards 2020. With this goal in mind, the company established the “WeStart” intrapreneurial program involving all its employees. It proved very successful, receiving about 50 applications to participate in the first edition and now aiming at a third edition. NeoStart, a co-creation program, was born as a natural extension of the WeStart innovation process.

Co-creation changes the game of innovation from designing for people to designing with people.
                                                     - Merce Graell, Strategic Design Director, Designit

Describing the NeoStart program in detail, Ricardo mentions how involving neonatal nurses, neonatologists, hospital pharmacists, engineers, Chiesi employees and parents of preemies was critical to the co-creation process. These stakeholders have a better understanding and unique perspectives on the challenges they face with preterm infants. The enthusiasm around the project is something he hasn’t seen often. Open discussions are important for the five teams with six people per team. Encouraging active involvement from all participants, the innovation process uses design thinking tools such as UX, rapid prototyping, and business modeling to create a minimum viable product. 

From Intrapreneurship to Embracing Entrepreneurship

Ricardo admits to facing challenges in bringing together diverse participants into the Neostart program, especially when the internal motivators are different from external ones. Even though the energy, passion, and motivation of the participants seem to keep the innovation pathway on track, initially there were some problems with communication and participation. A significant effort was made to smoothen out these initial hurdles and bring everyone on the same page.

Chiesi’s learning curve in moving away from being a pharmaceutical company to innovating in neonatal medical devices is still steep. Ricardo explains, the company invests significant resources in R&D, business development, and strategic alliances. This is expected from a pharmaceutical leader. Now, with entrepreneurship and innovation, they are looking beyond drug delivery to a new space outside typical corporate strategy. Facing resistance from young and senior employees, both, Ricardo feels that communication and buy-ins are critical. Celebrating wins and turning the ideas into tangible results are extremely important.

As per a Forrester Research report on innovation management, only 6% of corporations use innovation management tools for co-creation, while 45% use it for exploration, 34% for market poll disruption, and 11% for market validation. Chiesi falls within that 6% taking a risk on co-creation

Beyond Spain, Chiesi’s Co-Creation Bet To Go Global

Chiesi intends to expand the NeoStart program throughout Spain. The long-term goal and hope is to make the NeoStart program even bigger and international. They would like stakeholders to actively approach them with ideas. WeStart, with its emphasis on internal entrepreneurship, is a first step in readying the company for this new way of ideation. It is the soil in which new ideas will grow. Chiesi has already signed collaboration agreements with two start-ups that approached it with ideas and they expect to sign two more. This is a win-win situation for the startups and the company.

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Filling in the Neonatal Innovation Gap

As Susan concludes, in the current scenario, companies like Baby Living Lab and Chiesi are trying to fill in the gaps in the innovation process in neonatal care by putting the spotlight on co-creation and innovation labs. Chiesi is a front runner in nurturing an entrepreneurial environment and laying the groundwork to have their doors open for new projects to improve neonatal care. Co-creation in neonatal care is just taking off.





Contributing to Advancements in NICU Care

Contributing to Advancements in NICU Care

Co-Creation in Neonatal Innovation

Co-Creation in Neonatal Innovation