Technological innovation leaves ethics without questions, La Tour announces to me. The dilemma of the steak: eat it or think of the poor calves slaughtered in the slaughterhouse, will be solved in the end in the laboratory and no longer in our consciences. And it is that we already manufacture meat in the laboratory whose production will be scaled in factories giving it day by day (like any snack) the taste and flavor that the market demands. Nutrition is the great biotechnological trend –saving the planet– that begins because big data tells each of us what we should eat, how much, when and how to maximize pleasure and health. Also vertical take-off electric planes such as Lilium’s and psychotropic brain take-off molecules are part of what is already cooking in the laboratory and on any day, in our lives.
I got a degree in Bioengineering and a doctorate in Industrial Economics, but I got frustrated when researching with scientific teams that achieved extraordinary things but then they didn’t care if they were useful for something …
Because researchers only value them in case they publish in a good Journal academic, but then it is irrelevant to their career whether or not what they discover serves people.
And did you decide to change things?
We saw the millions that were moving in the world of digital platforms and we wanted to connect scientific research, business and business.
We started by organizing events for scientists, investors and entrepreneurs with free drinks and food: pizza and beers in principle.
They were not a minor detail.
Until we mounted the first edition of Hello Tomorrow, in 2011; and a competition of start-ups scientific in 2014; and, year after year, we have gathered up to 1,500 projects submitted to our competition.
What did they get?
That, for example, a start-up Lilium Aviation, which presented an electric flying car with vertical take-off …
Was it science or a movie?
Wait … and you will see. They won the competition and that victory gave them visibility to be received by the greats of aeronautics and venture capital investors.
Didn’t Musk start that way with Tesla?
Also those ten aeronautical engineering students that we helped were gaining credibility and raising capital to take off as a company and today they are listed on the NYSE, the New York Stock Exchange …
I’ve seen your website: it’s amazing.
It is a reality for which fortunes are already invested in building and remodeling airports around the world. And we gave them their runway. We identify promises in the lab for investors to transform into profitable ventures.
Tell us another success story?
I am passionate about health sciences and a researcher from the Polytechnic of Lausanne, Gregoire Courtine, showed us that he was able to stimulate nerve connections in paralyzed patients with his robotic assistive technology. And we gave him the award in 2014 of 100,000 euros, with which he managed to improve his prototypes. They are already in the clinical phase.
Good for Gregoire!
Being small, as was Gregoire’s experiment, also has advantages: start-ups they don’t have to maintain huge structures. And it will become a giant of the neurotech.
And without mistakes there are no successes?
There are sectors in which making mistakes is more expensive. Farmers are reluctant to take risks; because if they suffer a bad harvest, they need the whole following year to rebuild. And yet we desperately need to innovate in agricultural biotechnology.
To stop climate change. So we started collaborating with Bayer’s network of farmers and organized a competition to encourage innovation among them.
What are the most promising trends that unite laboratory and company?
Everything that is food, starting with agriculture, where we cross technologies …
Digitize irrigation, compost, light …?
Now the essential thing is to personalize the nutrient intake. Each one can already manage each nutrient they need to the gram.
Knowing yourself. Analyzing himself thoroughly to know what he is like and how he lives and, consequently, what he should eat: how much, when and how to enjoy it too.
And when you already know, what do you do?
We observe a great trend of innovation in biotech to produce alternative proteins: insects, for example …
And worms – we’ve already explained it here.
More revolutionary is cellular agriculture: producing meat in laboratories today to scale its production tomorrow in industries …
The end of slaughterhouses?
I can already announce the end of slaughterhouses, because, instead of growing the meat in animals that takes years to obtain from an ox or weeks, in a chicken, we will grow cells in industries and that provide us with the flavor and nutrients of good steak.
Possible Food, for example, recreates the taste and color of blood using genetically modified yeasts that are then mixed with plant proteins.
Good for our health and the animal?
And in construction materials we are experiencing a revolution, as in synthetic biology programming: with very little energy we can do many more things. Or with the neurotechnology of psychotropic molecules … Amazing.