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Life Sciences trends to watch out for in 2022

man in dark lab with test tubes glowing

2021 was a huge year for the life sciences sector marked by continued innovations, and the industry is showing no signs of slowing down. The development of new technologies has been a particular driver for the industry, transforming the culture of healthcare and revolutionising the way we diagnose, prevent, treat and manage disease.

2022 is already shaping up to be an exciting year for life sciences professionals, researchers and companies. As a leading provider of laboratory spaces, facilities and innovation services supporting the growth of life sciences businesses across the country, Bruntwood SciTech are committed to staying on top of the latest trends and shifts within the sector.

Our Director for Life Sciences, Dr Kath Mackay has identified the four trends she expects to see in the coming year. Read on to find out more and how we think they’ll shape the industry.

Artificial Intelligence

AI’s role in the industry is growing exponentially and we expect it to further establish itself in the mainstream in the year ahead.

2021 saw a myriad of exciting developments, such as the possibility to diagnose tuberculosis from X-rays using software and global powerhouses such as Benevolent AI, Microsoft, IBM and Alphabet’s DeepMind pursuing new medicines using AI applications. The global AI in drug discovery market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 38% by 2025, so we’ll be watching keenly as new developments arise.

But what’s the biggest factor holding AI’s place in the industry back? The skills shortage. We understand how important talent is to the life sciences sector, that’s why we will continue to leverage our unique ecosystem to bring universities, businesses, clinicians and academia together, while also championing STEAM careers.

Digital transformation

Digital transformation spiked in 2020 as a result of the pandemic but we expect to see developments in this area continue into 2022 and beyond.

Over the past year, we’ve seen developments in telemedicine, remote monitoring and health wearables, as well as a required shift to virtual visits and investments in data-driven systems, offering patients significantly more convenience and improving accessibility and diagnostics.

In the UK and in the NHS in particular, the digitisation of healthcare has been growing at a modest pace. However, we believe that the investments made in this area will become more apparent in the upcoming year driven by standalone divisions NHS Digital -
the organisation's IT backbone - and NHSX - a policy and best practice unit folding into the centre of NHS England and NHS Improvement.

In 2022, we’ll see more organisations across public healthcare and companies within pharma start to incorporate digitisation within their businesses as standard.

Sustainability in the supply chain

Following on from COP26 in November, and the commitments made from governments on a global scale, we’re predicting a more collaborative approach towards targeting the carbon footprint generated through the pharmaceutical supply chain.

Led by Schneider Electric and Carnstone, the Energize programme is a promising prospect that we hope to see more of, bringing together 10 global pharma leaders to share knowledge and other initiatives to reduce emissions and increase the use of renewable energy in the supply chain for the life sciences sector.

There are also predictions that supply chain efficiency could be improved by an early application for quantum computing in the sector.

Revolution of mRNA beyond COVID

RNA has become more than a trend within the sector, and is instead an extremely promising innovation within pharma and biotech that’s here to stay.

Following the rise of the pandemic and the urgent need for Covid-19 vaccines, mRNA (RNA’s protein-generating form messenger) technology has gone from showing promising potential in the world of immunisation to demonstrating unrivalled success in the battle against Covid.

The mRNA Covid-19 vaccines can be developed and adapted quickly, making them particularly useful as new variants of SARS-CoV-2 emerge, as well as proving to show capabilities in immunising against other infectious diseases like the Zika virus and HIV.

We believe we’ll see further discoveries utilising mRNA in areas such as cancer or auto-immune conditions. In fact, BioNTech, Pfizer and Moderna were all making advancements in this field before their attention had to turn to the global pandemic.

We’ll be watching the industry with a keen eye over the next year and will be excited to share the pioneering work of many of the companies from our network across Manchester, Cheshire, Leeds, Liverpool, Cambridge and Birmingham.

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