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Award Celebrates Innovation and Collaboration

Suffolk’s Center for Innovation and Change Leadership (CICL) honored the Accelerated Cure Project at its annual Global Leadership in Innovation and Collaboration Award and recognition day activities on November 7 at the Sawyer Business School.

Each year, the award is given to an organization that fosters and inspires innovation and collaboration.

“Our theme for this year’s award is ‘innovation and collaboration that saves lives,’ and that is what Accelerated Cure is all about,” said Robert Defillippi, co-director of the CICL and Sawyer Business School Professor of Strategy and International Business.

Accelerated Cure Project encourages collaboration between research organizations and clinicians to learn more about multiple sclerosis (MS). The group collects and distributes blood samples to scientists who are studying the disease. In return, the researchers share their findings, which are compiled into a database known as the Cure Map.

Accelerated Cure Project and the CICL share a similar goal, which is to “facilitate collaboration and information exchange that will lead to new insights,” said Colette Dumas, co-director of the CICL and Professor of Organizational Behavior and Management and Entrepreneurship.

Robert McBurneyRobert McBurney, CEO of Accelerated Cure Project, accepted the award on behalf of the organization. As part of the award ceremony, McBurney discussed the organization’s vision and collaborative practices.

“We simply need a better approach to research that helps us understand more about MS and directs us towards a cure,” McBurney said. “We don’t just need to raise another $200 million to foster multiple sclerosis research. We need to do something that’s different, something that will transform the way that research is done.”

Using pictures of a telegraph machine and iPhone, McBurney illustrated that “a succession of innovations over time has transformed the way we live,” and that is precisely what Accelerated Cure Project aims to achieve. The organization is “trying to change the paradigm of research so that we don’t remember what traditional academic biomedical research was like,” McBurney said.

Alex Slawsby, a manager at the consulting firm Innosight, moderated the discussion. He considers Accelerated Cure Project a “great example” of best practices for innovation. Slawsby, who helps organizations improve their innovation-driven growth, emphasized the importance of taking an approach that is open and collaborative because “you never know where the answer is going to come from.”

Dumas will also interview McBurney at the Suffolk University television studio about the importance of innovation in business. Their discussion will be posted on the Sawyer Business School’s YouTube page.

As part of the Sawyer Business School’s effort to incorporate real-world training in the curriculum, the University will develop a case study based on Accelerated Cure, which will be used in classroom discussions.

The award is just one of several CICL initiatives to integrate best practices of innovation and collaboration within the research, teaching, and service missions of CICL and Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School.


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