Emerging technologies

Key themes addressed at the OECD Global Forum on Biotechnology: Delivering Global Promise through the Life Sciences (December 2010)


Back to:OECD Global Forum on Biotechnology:Delivering Global Promise through the Life Sciences(Paris, 6-7 December 2010)

Knowledge networks and markets

This theme addresses how knowledge in the life sciences is governed, shared, regulated and managed. It includes: consideration of benefit-sharing mechanisms and legal agreements; issues in trade and how intellectual property (IP) relates to the life sciences; and the role of public engagement in life-science governance.

It covers financing of the life sciences, including challenges and opportunities for developing and emerging countries and regions, and the role of innovations such as public-private partnerships (PPPs) in developing countries.

It also explores the ways in which life-sciences futures are imagined, valued and mobilised in the present.  This includes ideas about green innovation and new sources of therapeutic molecules, new models of growth based around the bioeconomy, collaborative possibilities such as bioprospecting, and ways in which such strategies can contribute to ecological diversity and cultural sustainability.

Biodigital futures: Informatisation and convergence in the life sciences

This theme addresses how the life sciences and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can converge in ‘biodigital’ approaches, both in terms of research and in relation to novel products and services.

One focus is on the ‘informatisation’ of the life sciences — for example, regarding genomes as a form of software (sometimes called ‘wetware’) or attempting to standardise biological components using models from microelectronics.

But it also concerns the way in which ICTs relate to globalisation within bio-medicine and the life-sciences sectors. For example, global, web-based access to testing and diagnostic services can easily generate tension between the internet and national (or EU, etc.) regulation in policy around the life sciences. There are related issues concerning national autonomy and also regional inequalities.

The theme also encompasses the emerging role of database-driven life science research: for example, ICTs and innovation in the life sciences and emerging trends such as ‘Nano-SynBio’ converging with IT. At the same time, the theme highlights concerns around privacy and security generated by the global spread of genomic data.