Being out of touch with the needs of the world around you doesn’t endear you to the masses — just ask Marie Antoinette.
Serving as the last queen of France during the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette is perhaps most famous for a quote historians agree she never said: “Let them eat cake” — her supposed response after being told the French population was facing a bread shortage.
Marie Antoinette purportedly had a serious sweet tooth and an affinity for specially commissioned candles — two things that, at the time, were luxury items only available to the wealthy elite. While historians have debunked many of the scandalous rumors that swirled around her, Marie Antoinette’s love of extravagant parties, high-end décor and exquisite delicacies at a time when her subjects were starving did not help her reputation.
Both pitied and reviled, Marie Antoinette remains one of the most controversial and iconic characters in French history. Many historians have concluded that the teen queen was likely more scapegoat than aristocratic monster, but her disconnection from the real world made it fairly easy for her critics to paint a picture of her locked away in her palace, daintily eating cake with gloved hands amid the glow of custom candles.
The ‘let them eat cake’ anecdote has persisted as a cautionary tale of the perils of insensitivity, a plausible explanation of why so many leaders fail. Leadership necessitates a true understanding of the needs of those served, be it French peasants or an entire pharma market. Leaders who bring about real change typically are those who understand why and where innovation is needed — and are not afraid to get their hands sticky in the process.
And these are the types of leaders we look to celebrate with our annual Pharma Innovation Awards.
Innovation in the pharma industry can be flashy — such as a lifesaving mRNA vaccines during a pandemic — but it can also be a simple label designed to withstand the sub-zero temperatures needed to store those same vaccines.
Innovation in the pharma industry can also be big — such as a multimillion-dollar ‘factory of the future’ — but it doesn’t have to be. From a small-scale tablet press boasting all the features of larger units to a 1/16-inch aseptic tubing connector, many of our winners prove that physical size doesn’t matter.
Ultimately, the Pharma Innovation Awards are a tribute to those who listen to the needs of the market and their customers, and as a result, have distinguished themselves as leaders in pharmaceutical equipment and technology. This year, we have highlighted 16 innovative products spanning across six categories as the crème de la crème of technology.
Developing and improving technologies for a high-stakes, risk-averse industry is no piece of cake. The pandemic has proved both transformational and disruptive for the pharma industry, and drugmakers are cautiously seeking out new innovations to keep pace. Please join us in congratulating the equipment vendors who have helped pharma manufacturers — amid a turbulent market and upheaval of traditional business models — keep their heads.