Many articles are being written about the gig economy .Those of us who have been lucky enough to have played in a band understand what a gig really is. Normally it is a single performance paying very little and found by chance ( musicians always are struggling to get work ).It is an event which gives the band a chance to really play . It is a milestone for the band creating the much needed momentum to get the musicians to practice,get out of bed and rehearse the gig list .Those of you who have experience in this area know getting musicians to turn up is not the easiest of duties .They really like to do their own thing and time is never important .The gig to a band is the high point in the calendar resulting in much excitement and hopefully a great after party!So how has the musical term gig entered into into our business vocabulary?If you google the definition of a gig economy on your computer what comes up “is an environment in which temporary positions are common and organisations contract with independent workers for short term engagements . Nothing about the excitement of the performance ,its all about costs.
Clearly there is a similarity as musicians are independent workers ,especially if they play Jazz ( try to stop them soloing “) but is this really a gig ?In a gig the most important thing is the end product ,the performance .The recent high profile court cases have raised the profile of the gig economy but have mainly focused on the independent nature of the workers and not really the end product.
For the technology and the biotechnology scene in particular the question to pose “is the gig economy good for Innovation”Its is clearly very good for cost control. It is very good for dialling resources up and down when projects come and go.It is excellent for investors who really like to see their money spent on doing experiments rather that infrastructure . It would be ideal to have a virtual company if it is innovative.
The idea of having large groups of independent people (academics or whatever) who can be thrown onto a particular problem is very attractive.
A model of innovative research which can harness the world creativity is a brilliant approach . Asking who is up for what gig then asking them to audition is a fabulous concept .This is being used more and more in the retail ,customer driven sector .The recent cancer research UK initiative of putting 100 million pounds on the table as money that could be used to answer specific key questions in the field of cancer was and is a brilliant way of using the gig economy. Many individuals will be focused on a specific cancer related project .Many independents will be put to work in a way that is impossible for small medium or large pharma companies to achieve. Just imagine throwing out the question to the world what is the most commercially innovative therapeutic project and getting the most talented people in the world to answer ,then getting the most reknown scientists to listen and triage.
This hugely almost talent show approach to biotech innovation is a fabulous idea and fits the bill of being really a gig that could change our way of thinking.Perhaps if we focus our gigs on performance rather that cost saving and the size of the band this may be the way forward for increasing innovation . I really hope so then there will be a great after party!