Viewpoints

Engineering Biology: Five Silver Linings from 2020


December 9, 2020 – Mayfield Engineering Biology

We all know that 2020 was a very challenging year on the human and planetary health front.  While we would not wish to go through this collective experience again, as we go into 2021, with hopeful signs of a vaccine to control Covid, here are five silver linings for entrepreneurs looking to build lasting engineering biology companies.

Leaders who Unleash Innovation are Being Heralded

Jennifer Doudna, who discovered CRISPR, and co-founded Mammoth Biosciences to build a platform company around it was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.  She joins a small group of academic legends (George Church, Steve Quake) who are able to translate scientific discoveries into companies by nurturing the scientist-entrepreneurs who work on them.

The Pace of Healthcare Innovation Will Remain Accelerated

A lasting legacy of Covid is an acceleration of healthcare innovation pace & velocity of solutions. Engineering biology played a key role to get us to treatment faster – CRISPR-based tests from Mammoth Biosciences & others, vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, and monoclonal antibodies from Regeneron & Eli Lilly. By digitizing biology, delivering applications and platforms, and investing in biomanufacturing, we are closing the engineering biology innovation loop.  This accelerated pace from bench to bedside will result in precision treatments for disease areas that have not made progress in a long time.

Policymakers are Nurturing Innovation

The Supreme Court has signaled the survival of ACA. The FDA has approved treatments at a speed that was unthinkable till recently. The FDA has also heralded a new age in the use of Real World Evidence as part of new treatment development that is accelerating time to market and reducing costs.

Telehealth Delivered the Amazon Moment for the Industry

Remote living propelled the growth of telehealth services. As proven, repeatable business models such as subscriptions became mainstream, investors became bullish in supporting digital health companies.

Engineering Biology will Reinvent Trillion Dollar Industries

With food as the vanguard, scores of entrepreneurs are targeting other industries like fashion, construction, biomanufacturing, brain health, and more to use biology to reinvent industries, while improving human and planetary health.