ONTOFORCE - DISQOVER - Blog Article - workshop Knowledge for Growth 2015 - part 2

A report, ONTOFORCE at Knowledge For Growth 2015 – part I

Some events are absolutely great and 'Knowledge For Growth 2015' fitted the bill perfectly. A big crowd (±1,100 people) of highly relevant life sciences people, a wide range of different topics, enthusiastic speakers, 90+ exhibitors, and yes, the food was great too. Here’s our report from K4G 2015.

The importance of biotech

It’s not every day a fair is opened by … a bell. The Euronext Bell Ceremony at 9 o’clock demonstrated the growing relevance of biotech on the Brussels stock market. Biotech’s market value has grown fast these past few years to €15+ billion and I’m sure many of us are looking to add even more value to this.

Peter Piot, Director & Professor of Global Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, was the first to take the stage. He summed up some of the major global health challenges we’re faced with today: ever-more resistant bacteria, insects that are immune to pesticides, climate change, ageing populations, … There are many things we can and must do to remedy these challenges. Professor Piot strongly emphasized the importance of 1) public private partnership models as well as 2) innovation to do this.

“It’s not just about delivery in innovation, it’s also about innovation in delivery.”
Peter Piot, @Knowledge For Growth 2015, keynote presentation, May 2015

Professor Piot had already referred to mobile and smartphones as a means to bring healthcare to people in
poorer parts of the world and the second speaker, Young Sohn, President and Chief Strategy Officer at Samsung Electronics, enlarged on that. Samsung, which ships 600 million devices per year, is increasingly looking at connecting all these devices to each other. A reference, of course, to the Internet-of-Things (IoT). This will be highly relevant in delivering personalized, preventive healthcare advice to people.

“Everything we do, everything we touch will have the power of connectivity.”
Young Sohn, @Knowledge For Growth 2015, keynote presentation, May 2015

A big challenge Sohn sees, is that today, data is siloed. And siloed data does not give you many insights. So opening up data and making it more freely available will become increasingly important. Sohn demonstrated this by mentioning a few of the initiatives they support, such as an IoT platform, which enables non-developers to ‘write’ code that interconnects different devices. Many of these applications will also extend beyond healthcare: more data can help, for example, in tackling some of the climate change challenges, such as extreme drought in certain parts of the world.

Droughts and climate change are also high on the agenda of Kemal Malik, responsible for Innovation
at Bayer AG, the last of the big companies that still combines pharma, healthcare and crop sciences. The reason: there’s a lot of overlap in the biology of humans and other species. Even the fruit fly shares about 60% of its DNA with humans. Increasingly, learning from different species can generate new insights and new solutions. But to do so, Malik is convinced companies need to collaborate with other parties. To achieve this, Bayer launched several open innovation projects and collaborator spaces where start-ups can work at Bayer offices. The days that big companies can do everything on their own are gone: not all the smart people work for your company and, increasingly, small companies can do more on their own. Many innovations can happen without big funding or investments.

“We can’t get the science right alone, we need partners”
Kemal Malik, @Knowledge For Growth 2015, keynote presentation, May 2015

The importance of data in research

The three plenary speakers at the morning session all had one message in common: the importance of data in research is growing by the day and embracing the data will be the key driver to solve many of the challenges we face. Not just when it comes to medicines, but alsoin agriculture, improved research methods can speed up the discovery of solutions. Preventive health, digital health, personalized medicines, … many of these innovations are data driven.

“The data revolution is driving more and more of what we’re doing.”
Peter Piot, @Knowledge For Growth 2015, keynote presentation, May 2015

All speakers also emphasized who’s at the center of all activity: people. And that’s also precisely why we started ONTOFORCE. To help patients. To help people find relevance in an ever-growing amount of data.

That was also the topic of our own workshop. And the topic of PART II of our blog on Knowledge for Growth 2015.

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