Changing the future of scientific work

Empowering the scientific community with next-generation tools, services and platforms that make research simpler and more exact will accelerate discoveries that make a difference to people’s lives.


Overview

Scientific work is changing at a staggering rate. Not only is knowledge far more accessible, but equipment costs are falling. At the same time, cloud-based working is becoming increasingly popular and ‘democratising’ technologies, such as CRISPR gene-editing, are putting powerful scientific tools, which used to require significant funding, into the hands of the research community at large. Alongside this, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, automation, robotics, additive manufacturing processes such as 3D printing, and blockchain technology will enable advanced analysis of data and transform how research is undertaken.

This transformation will make scientific work easier and faster and give more and more researchers access to the ideas and the means to turn discoveries into life-changing innovations that can benefit humanity.

DID YOU KNOW?

56.1%

More than half (56.1%) of all CRISPR publications are in the top 10% most-cited publications.[1]

6X

Cloud computing spending is expected to grow at better than 6x the rate of IT spending through 2020.[2]

$10tn

Global healthcare spending could reach over $10 trillion by 2022 & its delivery is being transformed.[3]

Future of scientific work

Cloud computing technologies

It has never been easier to collect and analyse huge datasets. More and more consumer and industrial devices are collecting and communicating data – with billions connected with each other and to the internet.  Thanks to new generations of microchips and sensors, we are just starting to feel the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT).

The use of breakthrough technologies like AI is currently dominated by relatively few companies - but this is changing. Machine learning tools accessed by cloud computing are making AI cheaper and easier to use, allowing for more collaborative, data-centric research. Widening its accessibility to researchers everywhere will create new opportunities to gather and make sense of huge quantities of previously inaccessible data from the IoT.

‘Smart’ laboratories

A new generation of scientists working across disciplines will work together using new virtually-connected ways of working, with cloud-linked research clusters enabling collaboration in real-time from remote locations.

Technology-powered research solutions will challenge the concept of a ‘traditional lab building’ - the future will see research happening in a variety of workspaces from cloud-based labs, co-working facilities, DIY spaces and ‘Living labs’[4], reaching beyond the conventional framework of scientific research towards a more accessible, public realm of scientific enquiry. Many are emerging in urban centers, providing researchers with access to equipment and the scientific community outside the institutional framework.

CRISPR

CRISPR is a powerful new gene-editing technology which provides an efficient, cost-effective and reliable process for making precise, targeted changes to the genome of living cells. 

Researchers have seized this technology to accelerate research and progress towards the development of new cures for different diseases. In 2015, the number of articles related to CRISPR almost tripled compared with the combined growth rate in publication output for the other three gene-editing methods.[5] Over half (56.1%) of all CRISPR publications are in the top 10% most-cited publications and more than one-in-five are in the top 1% most-cited publications.

Emerging new players

Accelerating the adoption of Open Science[6] principles will bring a systemic change to the way scientific research is done. The democratisation of tools and technologies will see the emergence of citizen scientists and freelance researchers. New ecosystems are bringing together researchers and industry champions with tech-driven startups. Crowdfunding will enable the masses to back innovative new ideas. More and more researchers will have access to the knowledge and the means to turn their ideas into actual products. Building a new science or technology company has never been easier.

We are already seeing the rise of new players in research and development. For example, the Chinese technology giant Alibaba Health®[7] is using its immense reach to provide fair, affordable and accessible healthcare services for all, with new products including a 24-hour medicine delivery service and online doctor consultations. And Verily®’s[8] mission is to make the world’s health data useful so that people enjoy healthier lives. The company is developing tools to collect and organise health data - and then creating interventions and platforms that use insights from that data to prevent and manage disease.

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