The life sciences need a digital boost – Get involved now!
A wave of digitalization has been sweeping all industries. Media, banking, insurance, telecommunications and retail are pioneering this development. Under the banner of “Industry 4.0,” the digital structures are also taking over the processing industry at a rapid pace, with automotive clearly ahead of the game. An idea that started with streaming services for music has expanded to new payment methods, new services and whole new currencies. As a society, we have welcomed the digital transformation into our daily lives without much friction. But what about the life sciences? The clocks still seem to be ticking a bit too slow in our industry.
Digital Boost — concrete steps to take
We have everything we need to keep our successful industry on track for a bright future: a leading position in the global life sciences market, excellent universities and hospitals, a reputation for being one of the most innovative regions in the world, outstanding research and development facilities, and a globally renowned healthcare system. Let us take full advantage of these valuable tools. Our industry must not miss the transition to the digitalized life sciences – it is too important to the German-speaking countries.
It needs a functioning, collaborative ecosystem that integrates the life sciences, healthcare, politics, research and development. These players must work together to develop a portfolio of digital life sciences initiatives that realize innovative projects. Our digitalization project must achieve two specific, crucial goals: it must support innovative companies, startups and consortia. And it must establish a platform that can connect innovation leaders with the right contacts in the business world and reduce the barriers to entry that stand between these projects and their success.
No single company can drive the digital transformation of a whole national industry. In addition to our traditional companies, we will need data-driven businesses in future. This is the field we must support and develop if we want to take Switzerland’s life sciences industry to the future. In concrete terms, this means:
- Creating a “Digital Transformation in the Life Sciences” strategy involving key players
- Identifying the skills and capacities required for implementing the digital transformation in the life sciences
- Evaluating the current situation (SWOT)
- Defining and funding a marketplace / platform for innovation leaders and industry players
- Defining and initiating flagship projects for all relevant domains
- Strengthening interdisciplinary collaboration and mobilizing all available resources
- Promoting the dual education system to develop new professions that will be needed on the market in future
- Connecting all stakeholders
- Petitioning for and creating a regulatory environment that supports innovation – the topic of autonomous driving in the automotive industry has proven that development can shape legislation
- Creation of a legal framework for exchanging anonymized medical data (for the safety of all parties and to prevent uncertainty among patients)
Some companies have already recognized the potential of digitalization in the life sciences industry. But they are still a small minority. A broader, joint movement is required. At the very least, we must support and promote innovative startups. It is high time we caught up with the pioneers of digitalization – Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and the like – and focused on the opportunities inherent to the digital transformation. This task cannot be left to a small number of large manufacturers. To draw level with more innovative industries, we will require an industry-wide movement comprising as many small, medium-sized and large companies as possible. After all, we will also be serving our own self-interest by expanding our competitive advantage.
■ Marco Rogg
- Digital Transformation and Digitalization in Life Sciences & Healthcare
- Digital Foundation – Efficiently Developing Digital Business Models
- Life Sciences Trend Radar 2018