Investment in biotech innovation in life sciences, food, and materials has been nothing short of explosive in the past five years. From $1 billion of capital inflows in 2016, investment in synthetic biology exploded to $18 billion in 2021, a year when investors were still apprehensive about the lasting effects of Covid on the global economy.
Modern biology has revolutionized medicine with notable breakthroughs such as the discovery of synthetic insulin in the 1970s and the swift development of highly effective mRNA vaccines during the Covid-19 pandemic. Similar biotech-led innovation in food and materials while gathering pace has been far less impactful, to date.
Biotech food and material companies face a challenge that is arguably harder than innovators in life sciences. They must transform themselves from innovators from the university labs of Boston and California to manufacturers that can churn thousands of tons of products at a competitive cost to traditional food and material industries. Some industry executives call this transition the Valley of Death.