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Lilly-HCL co-innovation lab opens in Singapore

Zafar Anjum | July 14, 2011
A unique collaboration to bring new ideas to reality, aimed at enhancing Eli Lilly’s competitiveness in emerging markets leveraging disruptive technologies.

American pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Noida, India-headquartered IT services provider HCL technologies have joined hands to start a two-year partnership to develop proof of concepts (POCs) in HCL's Global Enterprise Mobility Lab in Singapore.

The Lilly-HCL co-innovation lab, housed in HCL's Jurong Development Centre, will bring together a diverse set of partners and local and global talent to develop innovative solutions for the pharmaceutical company, said Virender Aggarwal, president and head of APAC-MEA region, HCL, today at the lab's inauguration.

"We have been working with HCL for the last several years in Japan and in the emerging markets," said Aggarwal. "This co-innovation lab will accelerate the pursuit of innovation-led transformation by providing a collaborative environment and systematically cultivate new ideas and possibilities for Eli Lilly."

"We are partnering with HCL because HCL is deeply steeped in innovation," said Michael C. Heim, senior vice president and CIO, Eli Lilly. "Our goals and objectives are perfectly aligned."

Both Aggarwal and Heim said Singapore has the perfect ecosystem for founding this lab here. Both appreciated the help of the Singapore Economic Development Board in the setting up of the co-innovation lab.

Leveraging partners, disruptive technologies

According to Aggarwal, the aim of the lab is to track technology and create POCs for applied solution frameworks. HCL will take learning from its operations in other parts of the world and from other industry verticals and harness the fresh thinking of young talents from all over the world.

A few young engineers from Bits Pilani, India and NUS, Singapore have already been appointed to work on projects in the lab. Interns from the US, including fresh engineering graduates from Carnegie-Mellon University and Purdue, will be joining the lab soon, said Aggarwal.

He also said the new lab will leverage new technologies such as cloud computing, automation, business analytics, and enterprise mobility.

HCL will work with industry partners such as SAS, Cisco and for developing new solutions for its partner, Eli Lilly.

Structure kills innovation

"In terms of investment, it is a small amount," said Aggarwal, without revealing the exact amount. HCL is a US$7 billion company; Lilly is worth US$43 billion. However, he expressed hope that the innovations from the lab will create a big impact. "We don't have a big charter for it-otherwise, it will kill innovation."

"Big companies cannot innovate because they have to work within so many boundaries," he said. "Structure kills innovation."

That's why, Aggarwal explained, the lab will run like a venture capitalist-funded entity, with operational costs shared by both HCL and Lilly. To keep costs down, partners like SAS and will chip in by providing free software licences, he said.


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