We have entered a period where we’re putting immense pressure on Earth to feed our never-ending hunger for technological advancement.
This advancement is happening at the cost of rapidly dwindling natural resources. Since no resource on the planet will last forever, with rampant economic development and population growth, oil reserves across the globe are also declining rapidly. According to the US Energy Information Administration, 101 million barrels are consumed worldwide every day, and the figure will touch 130 million barrels mark by 2030.
Businesses are employing techniques that are both unusual and unheard of to counter this imminent vanishing of natural resources.
Startups and scientists are now developing biotech to convert wood waste, animal waste, wastewater sludge, cooking grease and other waste byproducts as feedstock to produce fuel.
If this sounds like alchemy to you, then you’re almost there. We have now entered an era where we’re literally using trash to produce goods that are vital for our survival.
Survival of the human race depends on us finding alternative sources of energy and raw materials, and biotechnology seems to be the only sustainable way to achieve this objective.
What is Biotechnology?
People have been using different biological processes to improve the quality of life and produce different goods for thousands of years. Since then we’ve made great strides and now biotech is a formal area of scientific research.
Biotech is an area of biology that deals with living systems and organisms to develop products. It can also be termed as the exploitation of biological processes for industrial and other uses. In the wake of the scenario mentioned above, you may find different biotechnology startups hitting the market. Considering different tools and applications, bioengineering, biomedical engineering, molecular engineering, etc. also overlap with biotechnology.
Agriculture, food production, and medicine are the main areas in this concern.
5 Industries that Biotech Startups Must Consider
The Six Million Dollar Man was a sci-fi series based on tech that was not available in 1974. In the series, the title character (played by Lee Majors) gets severely injured in an accident and scientists replaced his right arm, both legs and the left eye with bionic limbs and implants that enhance his strength and other features. This seemed like a far-fetched idea back in the 1970s, but now it is a reality. We have bionic ears, artificial limbs and face transplants, to name a few.
Following are 5 examples of biotechnology’s usage in different industries that startups must consider for a great future ahead.
Crops produced by biotechnology include corn, cotton, canola, papaya, tomatoes and squash. Dairy product manufacturers and bakeries have been using biotech products to produce cheese and yeast to make bread for centuries.
Crop yield has also been a major beneficiary of biotech as well, as scientists have been able to concoct ways to produce stimulants that increase per-acreage yield-of major crops that are in high demand due to exploding rise in population growth.
One more area that agricultural output has benefitted is their increased shelf life, higher nutritional value and enhanced resistance to diseases and herbicides.
Genetically modified (GM) plants and animals are used to enhance the taste and quality of food, along with other factors like shelf life and nutrition. The advent of lab-grown or artificial meat is another ground-breaking technology. Also called synthetic meat, it is made by growing muscles cells in a nutrient serum and turned into muscle-like fibers. Beyond Meat is a publicly listed company on NYSE with its IPO generating over a billion dollars in May 2019.
The automotive industry has been dabbling with the idea of green vehicles for decades now. Electric cars have been touted as a huge breakthrough in this regard. Also, newer ways like green fuel (bioethanol, biodiesel) and more efficient engines that can comply with the regulations by government and environmental agencies have popped up in the landscape. Tesla and Toyota lead the way in electric cars with many other companies like Honda and BMW are looking to come up with ways to combat pollution from vehicles.
Defense and Military Equipment
A bio-engineered material made with human skin with some help from spider silk is in production that can stop a bullet. So effectively, this material can be used in bulletproof jackets for enhancing the current body armor. The silk is layered with bio-engineered human skin grown in a laboratory to make such a material. And in the future, we can certainly anticipate more flexible and stronger materials that would help make spacesuits that are lighter and far stronger than their heavy and bulky predecessors.
Industrial biotechnology is all about the creation/production of new materials in the construction industry. Examples are paint and machines/tools that are created to enhance the durability and the completion of products/projects in record time. Manufacturing of washing detergents and personal care products also benefit greatly now from biotechnology.
One more area where you’ll witness a huge impact of biotech on is the healthcare sector. Trailblazers in the biopharma industry have developed newfangled methods of enhancing and prolonging life.
Cambridge and Ghanaian scientists have been working on a low cost, on-the-spot diagnostic mechanism for Weil’s disease (Leptospirosis). Leptospirosis is a major cause of death in that third-world because it’s often confused with typhoid, malaria and hepatitis.
Then new test uses a novel genetically modified enzyme that interacts with blood from a finger-prick sample and instantly tells whether the patient has Weil’s disease or not.
Why is Biotechnology the Future?
Believe it or not biotech is already a huge part of our lives. From the food that we consume to our attire and the meds that keep us healthy. No other domain has a big role to play in tackling the grand challenges of today and tomorrow than biotech.
Food security, alternative energy, climate change, affordable healthcare, rapid population growth and efficient use of resources; wherever you may look you’ll find biotech tackling these challenges by the horns.
It’s not just the largest biotech companies who are having the lion’s share in the hunt. In recent years, most of the top-selling drugs have been created by biotech companies. Pharmasset, a biotech startup, was bought by Gilead for a whopping $11 billion. And to the surprise of many, it added $40 billion within 3 years of its acquisition to Gilead’s market capitalization.
So, there’s huge potential for new startups to contribute towards solving the aforementioned challenges while at the same time fattening their bottom lines as well to invest in other innovative biotech projects. The future looks very bright for all the companies in the biotech sphere. And for the end-users too who will benefit from all the latest inventions and research in this field.
Every company needs to work efficiently and effectively to achieve maximum productivity. TaskQue is a productivity management tool that can offer good support to managers and supervisors trying to lead their teams. In this case, it is also helping biotechnology startups in a better way.
Over to you
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