What does it mean to be innovative?

3M ESPE recently received word that we’ve been named the most innovative company in the worldwide dental industry. While this news is obviously great to hear, what makes it even more exciting is that this marks the fifth year in a row that we’ve received the honor. But I wouldn’t be surprised if some dentists, upon hearing the news, wondered just how it is that this ranking is compiled. After all, there are plenty of new products, from multiple companies, introduced every year – one every 14 hours the last time I checked.  So how is it that they measure a concept as abstract as innovation?

The organization that creates the ranking, The Anaheim Group, is one that’s probably not well-known to dentists in individual practice. It’s targeted more toward Wall Street. For them, innovation comes down to two factors: U.S. new product clearances (FDA 510(k)); and patents, patents and more patents (both U.S. and International). It is in the patent categories that 3M ESPE really pulls away from the competition—we have an average of 50 innovations per year. With the “candy store” of research and development resources we have globally, our scientists are able to create some very unique technologies.

Not every patent results in a new product however, because we choose to take a measured approach to our new product introductions. We do this so that customer input drives product introductions as a direct response to their needs. This lets us apply our technologies in the most useful way.

A good example of this approach is the recent introduction of Filtek™ Supreme Ultra Universal Restorative. While the previous generation of this product, Filtek Supreme Plus, is the most successful composite on the market, our customers told us how they would like to see it improved—by making it easier to polish, by offering an expanded range of body shades, and by improving the handling of translucent shades. We listened, and we think this new generation will be even easier to use than before.

That’s how we put innovation to work at 3M ESPE. I’m looking forward to using this blog to share more insights with you, and, of course, to hear your thoughts as well.

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1 comment so far

  1. […] coming around again. In my very first entry here I shared the news that 3M ESPE had been named the most innovative company in the worldwide dental industry, and I’m pleased to tell you that we’ve received the honor again this year. In fact, it’s the […]


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