The Bio Revolution is redefining innovation in the life sciences. How this might be a game changer.
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The life sciences have made great advances in the past years. Biology, life sciences and the megatrend of digitization are growing closer together, enabling new inventions that impact our daily lives in a scope that we speak of a Bio Revolution. This revolution is reinforced by rapid increases in computing power and the emergence of new capabilities in AI, automation, and data analytics. These trends are further accelerating the pace of innovation and the potential for higher R&D productivity in the life sciences.
All this has led to new ways to understand and explore biology. The range of life forms on earth is incredibly complex and diverse. However, the methods to analyze them can be remarkably similar. Technologies and methods are transcending disciplinary boundaries even faster.
The implications across the life sciences can be enormous:
For human health, for example, a deeper understanding of the relationship between genetics and disease has led to the emergence of precision medicine, which can potentially be more effective than the one-size-fits-all therapies of the past. In the future, new technologies could help the healthcare industry not only treat, but cure or even prevent diseases. New gene and cell therapies, for example, aim to cure genetic diseases, potentially enabling sustainable organ replacement or reversing autoimmune diseases.
The Bio Revolution has the potential to help address some of the most critical global challenges, from climate change to pandemics, chronic diseases, and worldwide food security. Experts estimate that a significant portion of the economic impact of biological applications will be in health care, agriculture, and consumer products.3 Already today, the Bio Revolution with its convergence of science and technology has created an explosion of research projects in science and business. Each year, the amount of Intellectual Property related to the Bio Revolution is increasing.4 This can be seen, for example, by the number of patents in CrispR or plant biotech. In short: the revolution is gaining momentum and holds a great promise for health and food alike.
Fueled by digitalization, growing connectivity, and falling costs, important advances in biotechnology are intertwined with more systemic shift in how bio-innovation is undertaken and who is involved. Microbiome technologies, advanced genomics, gene editing and synthetic biology are among key enabling technologies that have the potential to change the face of bio-innovation. This broader redefinition of bio-innovation creates new prospects to help address important nutrition, environmental and development needs.
World Economic Forum, Bio-Innovation Dialogue Initiative
As a leading life science company, Bayer is aligned with the long-term market trends in health and nutrition and offers innovative and sustainable solutions to tackle some of the key challenges for humanity. Bayer brings to the table an extensive knowledge of human and plant science, supported by its expertise in regulatory processes and an impressive global footprint to ultimately bring innovations from labs to market.
Werner Baumann, Virtual Capital Markets Day 2021
The Bio Revolution marks the beginning of a new era: Innovations enabled by the convergence of biology and technology have the potential to significantly improve our lives, our nutrition, and our health.
Did you know that Bayer is at the forefront of the wave of innovation coming from the Bio Revolution?
The Bio Revolution is expected to transform healthcare and agriculture over the next decades – but the revolution is already happening now. With its newly established cell and gene therapy platform in Pharmaceuticals and innovative gene-editing tools such as CRISPR, Bayer operates at the core of the Bio Revolution and has tremendous opportunities to improve health and nutrition.
In Pharma, Bayer’s new Cell & Gene Therapy (CGT) platform steers our strategy in the area and orchestrates our activities along the value chain providing an innovation ecosystem for the companies – including BlueRock Therapeutics and Asklepios BioPharmaceutical (AskBio), which are fully owned by Bayer but operate autonomously. These therapies hold the potential to significantly impact patients’ lives by moving from treating symptoms to potentially curative approaches.
Bayer’s development portfolio of cell and gene therapies already comprises eight advanced assets in different stages of clinical development. These are applicable in multiple therapeutic areas with high unmet need, such as neurodegenerative, neuromuscular and cardiovascular indications, with programs in Pompe disease, Parkinson’s disease, hemophilia A, and congestive heart failure. With over 15 preclinical assets in the cell and gene therapy field, the pipeline is expected to grow steadily year by year.
Yet Bayer is not only using biotechnology to advance health – the promise for agriculture is just as inspiring. In the Crop Science Division, for example, tools like CRISPR can make changes to plant DNA with more precision than ever before and make plants more weather- or disease-resistant, enabling farmers to grow more or better-quality products under changing conditions.
Did you know that Leaps by Bayer invests into potentially disruptive technologies to tackle some of the largest, unsolved challenges in the life sciences?
With Leaps by Bayer – our impact investment approach utilizing venture capital – we are constantly scanning for additional potential breakthroughs that hold promise to either cure or treat people from diseases or help feed a growing population with less impact on the environment.
Leaps by Bayer has an investment focus on potentially disruptive solutions in the fields of healthcare and agriculture. The Leaps investment approach is remarkable: It aims to invest into or build up new innovative companies. Bayer supports those companies by enabling the exchange of proprietary assets, which can include sharing own patents or providing access to the Bayer network’s technical capabilities and 150 years of expertise. The companies remain autonomous with respect to decision making, while Leaps facilitates and supports them in a so-called active incubation process. Experienced team members actively engage in the young companies’ development by providing resources and helping them to steer the initial strategic direction. Today, the investment portfolio includes more than 35 companies advancing potential breakthrough technologies.
Leaps is our way of thinking big.
Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer AG
Many Leaps ventures have made significant progress towards unlocking the potential of new technology platforms with a promising and transformative potential. BlueRock Therapeutics, for example, started as a Leaps investment and is now an integral part of Bayer’s CGT platform and just received clearance to proceed with a phase I trial in Parkinson’s disease.
Other companies, like the biopharmaceutical player Triumvira, are specialized on next generation immuno-oncology treatments. Triumvira focuses on novel T-cell therapies that aim to be safer and more efficacious than current cell therapy cancer treatments. Treating, curing and preventing cancer is one of the focus areas of Leaps by Bayer, since this group of diseases still represents one of today’s biggest health challenges with limited curative or preventative therapies available.
We face a huge disease burden, and the way we produce food isn’t sustainable for the planet. I believe the Bio Revolution can help us overcome these issues.
Jürgen Eckhardt, Head of Leaps by Bayer
Leaps is also investing in the development of sustainable biotechnological solutions in the field of agriculture. One of the ventures in this field is Joyn Bio, a company that aims to significantly reduce the environmental impact of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers through a technology that fixes nitrogen into the soil. Nitrogen is one of the most important nutrients essential for every plant to grow, however, its use and production as a fertilizer is estimated to contribute 3-5% to all global greenhouse gas emissions. Joyn Bio is working on an engineered microbe that enables cereal crops like corn, wheat, and rice to convert nitrogen from the air into a form they can use to grow. This technology may have the potential to help farmers use nitrogen in new ways, and as a result, reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint.
The Leaps by Bayer investment portfolio includes more than 35 companies.
1 PG Economics (2020), Crop biotechnology continues to provide higher farmer income and significant environmental benefits
2 PG Economics (2017), Brookes & Barfoot: GM crops: global socio-economic and environmental impacts 1996-2015
3 McKinsey (2020), The Bio Revolution
4 IPlytics (2019), Recent patent trends in CRISPR
This content may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Bayer’s public reports, which are available on the Bayer website at www.bayer.com. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.