Nigel Brooksby, chair, Cogent Life Sciences Skills Board

Nigel Brooksby writes about technological advancements in Life Sciences and the links needed between academia and industry to facilitate growth in the sector.

I note with interest that the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2013 report asserts that “unforeseen consequences of new life science technologies is the risk area to show the sharpest rise in terms of likelihood in 2013 compared to 2012 risks”. Cogent, the sector skills council, is working with employers against a backdrop of unprecedented technological and scientific advances within life sciences.

We need to ensure we have a workforce able to get to grips with these ‘disruptive’ technologies and bring the appropriate knowledge and skills to bear. New disciplines such as nanotechnology and bioinformatics will require talented scientists and, above all, the ability to apply theory to the real world. This will require much closer working between academia and industry – with courses increasingly tailored to meet the needs of industry and ultimately the population at large.

We are working on programmes to do this. These are tremendously exciting times for life sciences, and growth remains a central ambition – but we also need to see continued investment in today’s and tomorrow’s workforce. Their contribution will mitigate the risks we face and support every part of the industry and supply chain, as it contends with innovation and technologies that we once only dreamed of.