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What’s your Bio Strategy? Biopharma and Healthcare Industry (2018)

Maintenance of human health is among the most complex industries on the planet, with factors ranging from disease, genetics, and injuries; eating, exercise, and environmental exposure; pills, apps, and surgeries all playing a part. Medicines are part of most of them, and the pharmaceuticals industry is thus one with roots that stretch back to the dawn of civilization. In the last 30 years, biopharma – the use of large, complex biomolecules (like insulin) as opposed to so-called small-molecule drugs (like penicillin) – has become one of the biggest drivers of industry transformation in a century. Biomolecules can address diseases in immunology, oncology, genetic defects, and many other conditions that small molecule drugs simply cannot treat. But discovering and creating biomolecules, manufacturing them at scale, then formulating and delivering them to patients are all completely different – and difficult. Synthetic biology is a critical new tool, as the historical means of engineering genes and proteins are running into both technical and economic limitations. The frontier of biopharmaceuticals today – engineering not just genes or proteins, but entire cells as therapeutic agents – is an even clearer fit with synthetic biology’s tools and techniques.

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This is a series of reports that accompanies the book, What’s Your Bio Strategy? by John Cumbers and Karl Schmieder. It is meant to be an industry-specific guide for companies in fields that will be strongly impacted by synthetic biology – and need to take strategic steps in response, or in advance. It is also meant to help practitioners in synthetic biology understand the structure and future of that industry, so they can better see how to align their innovations with industry and company goals.

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About the authors

John Cumbers
John Cumbers, Founder and CEO

John Cumbers is passionate about education and on the use and adoption of biological technologies. He has received multiple awards and grants from NASA and the National Academy of Sciences for his work in the field. John has been involved in multiple startups such as those producing food for space, microbes to extract lunar and martian resources, and hoverboards! John is an active investor through the DCVC SynBioBeta Fund and his synthetic biology syndicate on AngelList. John received a PhD in Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry from Brown University, a MSc in Bioinformatics from Edinburgh University and an undergraduate degree from the University of Hull in Computer Science with Information Engineering.

Mark Bünger, InnovationLab.

Mark Bünger helps clients apply science-driven innovation and technology to their biggest challenges – moonshots and beyond. He brings 25+ years as a tech researcher, developer, entrepreneur, and analyst, most recently at Lux Research, where as VP of Research he helped pioneer commercial investment in the space. His past work includes Forrester, Accenture, and several startups, as well as the University of California San Francisco and the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce.

About SynBioBeta


SynBioBeta is the premier innovation network for innovators, investors, and thinkers who share a passion for using synthetic biology to build a better, more sustainable universe. We host The Global Synthetic Biology Summit in San Francisco, October 1–3, part of Synthetic Biology Week, which showcase the cutting-edge developments in synthetic biology that are transforming how we fuel, heal and feed the world.

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