The real winners don’t compete, they work together

My View: The real winners don’t compete, they work together  Robert S. Green

by Robert Green                      

Premium content from Phoenix Business Journal

Friday, December 30, 2011

Competition is human nature, and it has its place. In the right venue, competition brings out the greatest potential. But the world changes and so do those venues.

In the business world, the time-honored approach has been to view your competitor as the enemy. Businesses rarely would collaborate, as the world was viewed as a zero-sum game: One wins and the other loses, with no middle ground. Similarly, nearby cities and towns would vie for every bread crumb, and educational institutions would compete for every grant dollar.

Times have changed. As author Thomas Friedman noted, the world is now flat. Two businesses in Phoenix, two cities in the Valley, and two universities in Arizona are no longer merely competing with each other; they are competing with others around the globe. What one can amass acting alone is no longer adequate on the world stage. The winners in this new world order are those who join forces to meet the challenge.

A prime example of the success of collaboration is my industry: the biosciences. In 2000, this sector barely existed. It consisted primarily of research occurring in isolated university labs. In what might be called the epitome of collaboration, the Flinn Foundation  established the Bioscience Roadmap Steering Committee in 2002, bringing together those in business, government and research with the express purpose of building a bioscience sector to diversify Arizona’s economy. The result of this unique collaboration is a world-class bioscience segment now realizing more than $12.5 billion in annual revenue with more than 90,000 jobs. In fact, while Arizona suffered significant job losses during the recession, the biosciences added jobs.

Need more proof of the success of collaboration? Visit the Downtown Biomedical Campus in Phoenix, where — despite a deep real estate slump — construction moves forward on yet another massive building. There you will see Arizona State University , the University of Arizona, Translational Genomics Research Institute, and a host of others working together to build our economy and better our lives. Read this paper to see the steady stream of joint grants ASU and UA win, and the remarkable scientific advances this joint research yields…

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