Open Innovation in Emerging Life Science


Investments in the United Kingdom’s bioeconomy are expected to deliver significant socio-economic benefits through innovations in health, agriculture, and the environment. These investments are increasingly tied to promotion of ‘open innovation’ in emerging fields, including systems and synthetic biology, epigenetics, and transcriptomics. Open innovation is supposed to improve collaboration between scientists working at the frontiers of knowledge, while optimising pathways to rapid commercialisation of beneficial products and services. Yet, widespread adoption of open innovation in emerging life sciences is uncharted territory.

Will emerging science flourish and innovation be stimulated in an open innovation bioeconomy? This question was investigated in this cross-investment project between the ESRC Innogen and Egenis Centres, which included: 1.) an analysis of recently published science and interviews with key scientists to provide a structured mapping of the trajectories of emerging life science and their interconnections; and 2.) a systematic foresight analysis to explore opportunities and barriers in innovation for the bioeconomy. Together, these activities explored how open innovation policies and practices change the goals and organisation of science and scientists’ collaborations, and whether and how innovation strategies adapt to change intellectual property regimes associated with the creation of knowledge networks and markets. The project also explored expectations of socio-economic benefits arising from the bioeconomy as new scientific priorities emerge in an evolving science policy context.