Industrialized biotechnology, which is referred to as the third wave of biotechnology, involves working with nature to maximize and accelerate the commercial production of bio-based products. Thanks to supercomputers, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and machine learning (ML), industrialized biotech could revolutionize human history.
In a broad sense, industrialized biotechnology has been around for centuries. We wore clothes and fabrics from wool and cotton which were dyed from plants.
Products like bread, cheese, yogurt, wine, and beer also make use of the natural biological process. In the 1800s, Louis Pasteur discovered that fermentation is the result of microbial activity. In 1928, Sir Alexander Fleming separated penicillin from mould.
Thanks to the advent of computers and AI, industrial biotechnology has discovered ways to manufacture goods for industry, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, and construction.
This now allows us to turn once time-consuming manual processes, which were prone to human error, into something that is predictable, repeatable, and saleable.
Was Industrialized Biotech behind the Rapid Development of the COVID-19 Vaccine?
The rapid development of various COVID-19 vaccines is an excellent example of how industrialized biotech is revolutionizing healthcare and the way we live.
Despite approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada, and other health agencies around the world, approximately 20% of Americans and Canadians said they wouldn’t get vaccinated. The reason? The COVID-19 vaccines were developed too fast.
There is precedence for this apprehension. The chicken pox vaccine took 28 years to develop and it took 15 years to develop a vaccine for human papilloma virus (HPV). Today, it can take anywhere from four to 10 years to conceive, devise, test, and produce a new vaccine.
But, with the COVID-19 vaccine, researchers, with unfettered time, were able to mine data from decades of prior work on vaccines and use supercomputers to fast track the development process, cutting not just months off the timeline, but years. Instead of taking decades, the first COVID-19 vaccines were developed in 11 months.
This isn’t the first-time advanced computers have been used in industrialized biotech. It took researchers 13 years (1990 to 2003) to decipher the entire human genome. Advanced supercomputers can do that same task today in just hours.
The same technology that brings industrial biotechnology products to market in record time can also significantly cut costs too. The cost to sequence the original human genome in 2004 was between $20 million to $25 million. Today, it costs less than $1,000.
What Is the Future of Industrialized Biotech?
The fact is, we’re still at the beginning of the industrialized biotech revolution. What we’ve learned early on from biologically produced products though (pharmaceuticals, biofuels and solvents, nutrients, and novel polymers) is that as more and more new technologies are used, they increase the diversity of products that can be produced through industrial biotechnology.
And these new technologies create unprecedented amounts of data that can be processed, analyzed, and understood using AI, AR, and ML, it makes it easier to put into practice and realize near-term benefits.
As a result of new crop production technology, corn yields increased by 10% per hectare from 2004 and 2018. Despite the significantly increased yield, for each metric ton of corn produced, inputs of nitrogen decreased by 13%, potassium by 20%, and phosphorus by 14%.
Going forward, businesses in every sector will be relying on industrialized biotech not just because it makes them more efficient and sustainable, but because consumers are demanding it too.
According to a recent study by Kearny, 78% of consumers think companies should do more to help them make decisions that improve environmental outcomes and 65% want companies to explain the environmental benefits on their products or website.
The fact is that industrialized biotech is one of the most promising technologies with the potential to address some of the world’s most pressing problems by offering new alternatives to natural resources. Many healthcare companies are taking notice of the advancements in biotech and biotech-related services.
Investing in Healthcare with LIFE ETF
One way to simplify investing in the cutting-edge healthcare industry is through an ETF. A healthcare ETF offers a diversified portfolio of holdings in healthcare stocks. ETFs ensure that your risk is diversified, but that you are still invested in blue-chip names that you trust.
Evolve Global Healthcare Enhanced Yield Fund (LIFE ETF) provides investors with exposure to twenty global blue-chip companies in the healthcare industry, with a covered call strategy that is actively managed to provide increased yield potential while helping mitigate risk. LIFE ETF is available in hedged, unhedged and USD classes, as well as mutual fund versions.
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*Note: All figures in USD, unless otherwise mentioned.