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Shaping the image of a new industry sector

by AprilSix Proof

The industrial biotechnology sector is ever-growing and that couldn’t be more apparent when networking at the welcome reception of the 12th annual BIO World Congress. Last week I was on tour with the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre in Montreal for one of the key global conferences on biotechnology.

There were people from all walks of life who had gathered together to celebrate the development of the biotechnology industry and form global collaborations for business. There was a real energy in the room and the idea of international partnerships resonated from most conversations, showing how our Scottish delegation would really benefit from the trip.

Many of the sessions were based on best practice and real-life use cases, but given the number of thought leaders in the room, there were some clear messages for the industry.

Getting the messaging right as an industry

As any industry develops there is the need to define practices and terms for processes and innovation. Some get through this stage easier than others, take for example the Internet of Things, which has become commonplace to describe connected machines, winning out over machine-to-machine which was more commonly used in the early stages of the industry. However, other practices soon became aligned with a negative – Genetic Modification (GM) for one. This practice is at the heart of much of our agricultural and industrial practice in the modern world, but due to the lack of careful handling at the beginning, the phrase GM has been attached to a negative, unnatural and harmful connotation.

So how do we ensure that messaging is right for the industry as a whole?

It’s hard to predict how the general public will react to any topic, but there are a few things we can do to help steer things in the right direction:

  1. Ensure that phrases used are clear; not ambiguous and free from negative words
  2. Explain what a topic or process is by using real life examples – show it can have a positive impact on people as individuals or society as a whole
  3. Present a united front, but not a ‘defence’ – the same phrases need to be used consistently throughout the industry but points should be made in a positive manner
  4. Use industry bodies, innovation centres and similar organisations to set the tone – centres like IBioIC are there to grow the industry and can advise and support their member organisations. They can present a voice for the industry rather than an individual and can help to show united support across the board

Working together

The world is becoming a smaller place – we are all connected and technology is making that connection ever more prevalent. This also means there is a wider scope to collaborate and move the industry forward together. By exchanging knowledge, data, and best practice, the global economy can benefit, growing the market in all countries involved.

Celebrate success          

While issues of IP can mean that companies are resistant to share their innovations, we need to share successes as often as possible. This helps to raise the profile of the sector with political figures, investors, other researchers and innovators as well as the general public.

It also helps with both of the points above – success stories create a positive image of the industry and encourage others to work on similar areas to solve the spectrum of issues and challenges.

With the development of technology, we are seeing many new innovations in the marketplace and new sectors emerging. While it takes more than what is listed above, these are steps in the right direction. We are looking forward to seeing the industrial biotechnology market grow and what other sectors may develop in the coming years.

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