Our Culture of Innovation
Vertex innovation programs bring together the brightest minds to strike at the core of serious diseases.
Innovation at Vertex is driven by a single purpose: to transform lives. We have an entire department dedicated to innovation (VIER, or Vertex Innovation and External Research) and have developed both internal and external programs so our culture of innovation can grow even further. These innovation programs are focused on four strategic objectives that support our overall goal of making Vertex a phenomenal place to innovate.
- Generate and implement new ideas: Through innovation tournaments, hackathons and partnerships, we solve mission critical challenges to bring new medicines to patients.
- Support all functions as innovators: We partner with people and departments in all areas of the business to innovate through challenges.
- Create new connections: We host brilliant speakers to share their work on a variety of topics. These diverse perspectives inspire and motivate us to think about new ways to address challenges.
- Nurture creative people: We believe innovation is a trained skill. We teach our colleagues the science of innovation and support them throughout their creative process.
Our core innovation programs include the Vertex Fellows program, Vertex Opportunities for Intrapreneurship and Corporate Evolution (VOICE) and the Science and Medicine seminar series.
The Vertex Fellows program is a unique, one-year opportunity for outstanding early career scientists and physicians to join Vertex project teams and help advance real drug discovery programs. In addition to hands-on experience, Fellows receive training on the drug discovery process, mentorship from senior leaders, and exposure to many different business areas. The program is designed to augment, rather than replace, a traditional post-doctoral, residency or business school experience. David Altshuler, EVP, Global Research and Chief Scientific Officer, directs the program with the help of other Vertex senior leaders.
“The point of the Fellows Program is to make sure that we remain fresh, we bring in new people, new ideas, and also that we give back.”
What we look for in a Fellow:
- Experience conducting and leading breakthrough research
- Entrepreneurial spirit for solving challenging problems with innovative solutions
- Thirst for knowledge and the desire to better understand how drugs are developed
- Completion of a Ph.D., an M.D., or a joint degree within 5 years of starting the fellowship
Fellows Program Timeline:
Applications for the Vertex Fellows program are now closed. The next cycle of applications will begin at the end of 2021.
VOICE is an internal global innovation tournament that empowers all employees to develop ideas inspired by game-changing science or business challenges. Employees who have their ideas selected go on to build cross-functional teams, develop refined proposals and execute their winning plans. VOICE injects Vertex’s culture with an entrepreneurial spirit by encouraging employees to become change makers who can contribute to the direction of the company and help advance our goal of discovering cures for serious diseases.
Since the program began in 2015, dozens of ideas have been implemented, including:
- Initiating a major research program in a new disease
- Developing multiple exploratory research projects
- Building a 3D printing lab
- Designing a mobile app to help Vertexians find one another
- Creating a commuter bus program to reduce traffic congestion in Boston’s Seaport District
“It's amazing to see the innovation that happens - it just blossoms on its own.”
“VOICE gives employees a way to get involved in something that wouldn't be part of their normal day job - something that is outside of the realm of maybe anything they've ever done before, but they now have permission and the opportunity to really throw themselves into it.”
The Science and Medicine speaker series connects our employees with cutting-edge leaders across the industry. We look for thought-provoking speakers and ideas that challenge us to think about scientific problems in new ways. In this way, we encourage our employees to remain lifelong learners who bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the table.
Recent speakers include Atul Gawande (Brigham and Women's), Aviv Regev (Broad, MIT), Kay Davies (Oxford), Aravinda Chakravarti (Hopkins), Vamsi Mootha (MGH), Jeffrey Kopp (NIH), Kit Parker (Harvard), Rick Lifton (Rockefeller), Mahzarin Banaji (Harvard), Vijay Pande (Stanford) and George Daley (Harvard)