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22.10.2020

Incorporating Bio-IT in the high-tech strategy

An analysis of the High-Tech Forum on Bio-IT shows the potential of innovations - also for the bio-economy. The panel advises to put the topic on the political agenda.

In its impulse paper "Bio-IT Innovations", the high-tech forum underlines the need for political and social action in the field of Bio-IT.
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Gerd Altmann | Pixabay

Biologization and digitization are well-known drivers for the change towards a bio-based and sustainable economy. The High-Tech Forum has now analyzed the innovation potential of the so-called bio-IT. In the current impulse paper "Bio-IT Innovations", the experts recommend putting the topic on the political agenda and implementing it as a core component of the high-tech strategy.

Implementing sustainability goals with Bio-IT innovations

"With Bio-IT innovations, we can pursue important sustainability goals in areas such as healthcare, nutrition, climate protection and biodiversity with a whole new dynamic. Germany can play an internationally prominent role here by putting in place the framework conditions for an efficient innovation chain from idea to application," says Christiane Woopen, Managing Director of the Cologne Center for Ethics, Rights, Economics, and Social Sciences of Health (CERES), University of Cologne, and spokeswoman for the "Bio-IT Innovations" topic team at the High-Tech Forum.

Great innovation potential for the bio-economy

The panel's analysis showed that the convergence of biology and information technology is giving rise to groundbreaking innovations that offer medicine, agriculture, the food industry and industrial production completely new possibilities. There is enormous innovation potential, especially for rapidly growing future markets such as the bio-economy, it is said. This concerns, for example, new treatment options in personalized medicine, but also the development of climate-friendly and efficient food production.

Bio-IT innovations also offer opportunities for biodiversity monitoring and species protection. Data determined in real time on the state of the environment could be collected here and immediately analyzed, thus enabling prompt intervention. The market potential is just as great for the New AgriFood Economy, which, according to the authors, will replace large parts of the traditional food and agricultural industry as a key industry. Digitalization and technologization of the food system offer the possibility here of solving the effects of major global trends such as urbanization, population growth and climate change in a sustainable manner.

Strengthening Bio-IT research

Germany must make an effort to help shape the development of technologies on an equal footing and in the spirit of responsible research and innovation - especially in view of the massive investments and growing commitment of large digital groups, the paper states. The High-Tech Forum therefore recommends strengthening Bio-IT research and bringing it into application together with society and industry. For example, a new Bio-IT research center should link all relevant specialist competencies throughout Germany in order to promote research and development at an international level. Incentives would also have to be created for spin-offs and high-tech start-ups.

Involving society at an early stage

The panel of experts estimates that investments in the three-digit million range are necessary to bring the new knowledge from research into companies. To ensure that Bio-IT innovations benefit everyone and also become social innovations, the experts recommend involving society at an early stage in the form of a broad debate. The "Bio-IT Innovations" impulse paper will be presented on 28 October 2020 at a meeting with the State Secretaries of the Federal Ministries on the High-Tech Strategy 2025.

The High-Tech Forum consists of 20 representatives from business, science and politics. The experts regularly provide the Federal Government with recommendations for the further development of the High-Tech Strategy. This strategy defines interdepartmental goals, priorities and milestones for future research and innovation policy in Germany and is geared to three major fields of action: social challenges, Germany's future competencies and an open innovation and risk culture.

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