The SCurve Summarized

Here is the concept of the S-curve in a nutshell:

• New technology is a slow process, requiring years of incubation. Often, new technologies appear to be solutions looking for problems. Some 22 years elapsed between the invention of powered flight and Doolittle's flight at 232 mph. Similarly, 24 years elapsed between Watson and Crick's DNA announcement in 1953 and development of the general technique to manufacture proteins in bacterial hosts based on the somatostatin model created by Riggs and Itakura in 1977. Typically, 20 or more years are required for a new technology to mature to the point of an accelerating S-curve. The knowledge base and tools must be put into place. Eventually, limits are reached; but biotechnology is still relatively low on the S-curve, with hundreds of new products in the development process.

• Every technology has limits. The process of insulin production based on animal source materials was inadequate to meet rising future demand.

• When new technology is introduced, there is skepticism from all quarters, including other scientists, the news media, Congress, government agencies, and the investment community. The discontinuity between the two S-curves means leaving the security of the old for the uncertain promise of the newa required step to reach new heights of performance.


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