Next month, on 15th July, the New Statesman will host its first conference on biotechnology. Through one-on-one interviews, panel discussions and live Q&As, the online event will bring together academics, researchers, industry leaders and parliamentarians to discuss this burgeoning industry with an audience of biotechnology experts and a range of figures from the public policy and private sectors.
The importance of industrial biotechnology has been highlighted by the events of the last 14 months, as its applications in pharmaceutical production, the development and manufacture of tests, treatments and vaccines, as well as in the field of genomics, have played a key part in combating the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, biotechnology has been recognised as having the potential to be a cornerstone of green growth and ‘building back better’, both by providing an advanced alternative to fossil fuels and by providing high-tech, high-productivity jobs of the future in the world-class UK industry.
This potential was recognised by the government in their 2018 report – published in conjunction with the industrial strategy – Growing the Bioeconomy, which set out a strategic vision for a sector “worth £220bn” gross value added, and “contributing over 5 million UK jobs”. Partnership between industry, government and universities was posited as the crucial basis of innovation, with this ‘triple helix’ of cross-sector cooperation seen as an essential precursor to fostering growth.
The conference will look to explore biotechnology’s role in the post-Covid economic recovery with former Minister for Life Sciences, George Freeman. Experts from the University of Manchester’s Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB), Johnson Matthey and Cambridge Consultants will discuss the role of biotechnology in the transition to net zero, reducing emissions, creating products and processes based on renewables, and helping foster a circular economy. Speakers from Imperial College and Fujifilm Diosynth Laboratories will discuss the medical applications of biotechnology, from innovative gene therapies to new vaccine research, before guests from the UK Synthetic Biology Leadership Council and Cytiva look at its role in manufacturing processes. Speakers from Gilead and the Innogen Centre at the University of Edinburgh, as well as Chi Onwurah, Shadow Minister for Science and Research, will discuss the role of government in fostering a collaborative biotech innovation and investment ecosystem.
Click here for more information and to register for the event.