VOL. 9 | NO. 22 | Saturday, May 28, 2016
The Memphis News Editorial
Editorial: Innovation Must Link Memphis’ Needs, Promise
The innovation efforts starting to bear fruit in Memphis’ medical community didn’t just appear miraculously.
Leaders of this effort started to plow rock-hard ground years ago.
While business innovation is difficult, health and medical innovation aimed at commercial applications is much more brutal. The reward for a breakthrough at this level is greater, but so is the risk, with investors’ capital burned through quickly whether or not an idea is brought to fruition.
Yet Memphis’ ecosystem for medical and health care innovation is as unique as it is for other types of inventiveness.
That’s taken some getting used to for Memphians who still speak of the city’s challenges – such as infant mortality and access to health care – in whispers for fear that visitors might be scared away.
Our challenges are the world’s challenges. What separates us from the rest of the world is the environment in which our city addresses its problems.
There is no place to hide from reality for very long in Memphis if you are really serious about confronting a challenge. And it’s nearly impossible to look at such problems in a vacuum of numbers and statistics without considering how they impact real lives.
If you care about what you do, you are in a place that will take that seriously and put it to the test.
This is precisely the kind of proving ground that meaningful innovation needs.
Couple that with the city’s medical heritage, in which some breakthroughs are inexplicably obscured from our history, and you have the makings of a particular kind of innovation that isn’t a step on a ladder elsewhere but a destination of its own.
Hopefully, the institutions within the city’s traditional medical center are about making the destination part of that equation a more visible, tangible reality with the Medical District Collaborative effort.
Further west toward the river, leaders of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital are talking more and more of a medical future in which chemotherapy is a thing of the past.
The institution’s near move to St. Louis in the late 1980s was just the wake-up call needed to start the city’s long and ongoing journey to research hub. The time it’s taken to remake St. Jude’s campus, with new plans on the horizon to make it all over again, finds it talking not only about technology but about facilitating collaboration among institutions.
Regional One Health is talking about innovation with a voice as loud as the one it formerly used to continuously talk about an urgent need for funding just to cover the basics of the community’s public safety net hospital.
These are exciting times for a medical vanguard in a city with needs that must seem like a bottomless well.
It is that need that draws medical players – both new and established – to Memphis, bringing not only what they know and have learned, but also bringing what they hope for a city whose story is like no other.