Theseus Capital Founder Ron Bauer Highlights Some of the Benefits and Risks of Biotech

 

To say that the biotech industry is going strong is an understatement: it’s outright booming, and there is no slowdown in sight. In the U.S., the biotech marketplace is currently generating $114.8 billion in revenues per year, and worldwide the market is expected to exceed $775 billion by 2024 and grow at a significantly above average CAGR of 9.9% between 2019-2024. Clearly, biotech is playing — and will continue to play — a pivotal, and in many cases profound role in both shaping and creating the future.

Below are some of the key benefits of biotech according to Ron Bauer – venture capitalist, investor, and Founder of Theseus Capital

Medical and Health Breakthroughs

Perhaps the most important benefit of biotech relates to medical and health breakthroughs, which enable people to live healthier, longer lives. In some cases, biotech can even prevent illnesses by using technologies, techniques and drugs that target and alter genes that would otherwise contribute to the development of debilitating and potentially fatal diseases. 

 

According to Ron Bauer, whose firm Theseus Capital works closely with top scientists and entrepreneurs: One of the most inspiring and exciting examples how biotech can improve and save lives happened in 2017, when the FDA approved the first-ever drug treatment that was clinical shown to reverse hepatitis C in as little as eight weeks.

Reducing Hunger and Improving Nutrition

Another revolutionary application of biotech is in the agriculture sector, where researchers are developing and introducing solutions that improve the productivity of cropland — which is especially critical in drought-prone areas — as well enhance the nutritional value of foods, so that more people have regular access to the essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they need to optimize their health and overall wellness.

Ron Bauer explains that in 2013, farmers in the U.S. Midwest planted the world’s first water-efficient and drought-tolerant maize. Plant scientists are currently exploring ways to expand this biotech breakthrough to other parts of the world, such as Africa where prolonged droughts are common and where maize is a basic staple food for hundreds of millions of people.

At the same time, there are some core challenges and potential drawbacks of biotech that will also determine and drive its evolution; in some ways we can imagine, and in others we cannot. These are explored below.

Unexpected Implications and Unintended Consequences

Despite robust protocols and procedures, there is an inherent possibility that biotech discoveries and advancements can unleash unexpected implications and unintended consequences, which could range from viral outbreaks to the weaponization of biotech to carry out criminal and other illicit aims.

In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control alerted that scientists working in the organization’s Ebola laboratory may have been exposed to the deadly virus. While a subsequent investigation confirmed that there was in fact no outbreak, the incident made global headlines and highlighted the significant potential threats and dangers that can be triggered by human error and systemic mismanagement.

Socioeconomic Inequality 

Biotech breakthroughs such as water-efficient and drought-tolerant maize crops are designed to promote health and generate economic and community development in at-risk regions. However, there is a possibility — and some critics say a likelihood given the patterns of human history — that this kind of revolutionary technology will not be made accessible to all. Rather, it will be allocated to the wealthy and empowered, and denied to those who cannot afford it yet need it the most.  

Ron Bauer claims that despite this very real socioeconomic risk, there are measures and programs that can be implemented — such as legislation and standards — to support a more level playing field and ensure that potentially lifesaving and economically advantageous technologies do not become the exclusive property of a limited number of powerful companies or entities.

 

  

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