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Realising the potential of the life sciences – how can society get involved?
The 21st century has been widely proclaimed as the “century of the life sciences”. Their impact is expected to profoundly alter the way we live. Not only will the life sciences reshuffle the demographic and individual outlook of Western societies as they help us live longer and better, they also address the other big challenges of mankind – understanding the complexities and preserving the variety of life on our planet, climate change, famine, as well as ecological and safe energy resources.
The first European Conference of Life Science Funders and Foundations will explore opportunities to positively influence and accelerate the necessary discoveries and their transformation into applications that benefit us all.
The sessions will look at the following topics and challenges:
Session 1: The big picture
How will we feed 10 billion people? How can we slow down and live with the effects of global warming? How will an aging population change our societies?
Session 2: Coping with complexity
Understanding the mechanisms of life carries considerable promise but is more complex than research or development of man-made systems. It requires significant technological advances to produce meaningful results that can be taken into the next stage.
Session 3: Providing transparency, trust, and credibility while maintaining a culture of creativity
Research in the life sciences is progressing rapidly, providing unprecedented opportunities to manipulate living organisms. The general public views this with considerable degrees of fear and mistrust. It will be important to inform, involve, and meet the public while at the same time providing platforms and avenues that enable a better understanding.
Session 4: Taking the long view – Funding the life sciences
Realising the potential of the life sciences takes long periods of time. The path from scientific discovery via translational research into application takes more time than conventional investors are prepared to wait until they see a return on their investment.
Session 5: Support on all scales – Individual contributions to life science progress
Besides massive contributions from large foundations, support from private funders directed at individuals or smaller scale projects can make a considerable difference in advancing life science research. Which formats exist and have been successful?
Session 6: The way forward – New forms and frameworks for private support
As progress in life science research is not a linear and predictable process, defining realistic timeframes and conditions is a must. At the same time a new type of philanthropist is coming to the fore - the social entrepreneur - and new forms such as Mission Investing and Impact Investments are emerging. How can we align these new forms and maximise their impact for greater good?