I've had the privilege of attending the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF). This is a pan-European conference dedicated to scientific research and innovation and it happens every two years. There is a packed programme, with multiple talks taking place at any one time. We heard about:
- The global response to antimicrobial resistance (AMR). If we do not tackle AMR, then by 2050 we can expect 10 million deaths annually with a loss of $100 trillion from GDP as a result of AMR. It's an issue that is too great to ignore. But at the moment (based on stats shown to ESOF attendees) there are just 39 new antibiotic drugs in development. By comparison, there are 771 cancer drugs in development. The discussion indicated that we need to reduce the regulatory burden for developing new antibiotics and change the reimbursement model to stimulate work in this area...we need to "take more shots at goal" in the words of Professor Keith Outterson. Changing the reimbursement model might require us to pay for non-use...it sounds like an odd concept for drug commercialisation, but the analogy is the defence system or battleship - you'd be quite happy if it never gets used, but it is reassuring to have it ready to put into action.
- Europe in 2030 and beyond, viewed through the future periscope. The buzz word in this session was "foresight" (we've got a webpage for that: see here!). Jerome Glenn from The Millennium Project talked about the synergy of technologies that we will see in 2030 and the three different types of Artificial Intelligence (Narrow, General and Super). Apparently there is scope for you and me and millions of others to each be an "augmented genius".
- Flying cars and quantum computers: when disruptive technologies meet regulation. Mairead McGuinness MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament made some excellent points about the need to find middle ground, and avoid polarities, when regulating new technology. She commented on the need for legal certainty for the exploitation of technology, but observed the science of legislation is not yet fully formed.
- Starting a company through the spin-out game. This highlighted the competing interests of inventors, universities, corporates, investors and regional development executives when it comes to exploiting new technology generated through university research...something we're well aware of at Mills & Reeve!
- Future and emerging technologies. The message that I took home from this is that swarm robot technology could potentially result in the development of Transformers. It was also entertaining to see some of the uses Graphene has been put to...it's super thin and super strong after all. A bit of light relief at the end of the day!
We'll go into more detail on some specific topics in separate blogs.
You can learn more about ESOF by watching our new video at: www.mills-reeve.com/manchester-city-of-science/