Deep tech is crucial for the next big wave of innovation, say experts | Imperial News


For deep technology to rise to the challenge of solving the world’s most pressing problems, cooperation is essential, experts agreed at a conference.

Speakers and panelists from academia and the business community have gathered in person and online for the Business School’s seventh annual conference: Deep Tech: Harnessing the Next Big Wave of Innovation.

Industry leaders, policy makers, academics and researchers discussed the urgent need to rapidly advance deep technology to boost productivity and solve some of the most pressing challenges facing society today’ today, such as climate change and health crises. While disruptive innovations in science and engineering have the power to change the world, they require collaborative ecosystems to be commercialized successfully, experts agreed.

Experts also discussed the financing, incentives, business models and institutional frameworks essential for exploiting deep technologies.

Watch the full conference video below.

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The merits of risk and speed

The first keynote was delivered by Dame Kate Bingham, Managing Partner at SV Health Investors, who chaired the Vaccine Taskforce (VTF) during the COVID-19 pandemic. She described the role of the task force, a group led by the government’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, to advance the development and production of a vaccine.

She also explored what the VTF’s work could teach us about innovation and how a venture capital mindset can be used to address global challenges.

“The main thing we had to deal with in government was that they accept uncertainty and that’s what we do in the adventure [capitalism],” she said. “I had a very clear mandate for speed, which was helpful, and they [the government] accepted the idea that we were going to take risks and that there would be losses.

She added: “The government calls it ‘no regrets funding’ and it was a game changer for us because if we didn’t have that we wouldn’t have been able to work as quickly as we did.

The success of VTF has led the G7 to commit to a 100-day response to the next pandemic, whether through global surveillance, observation of potential new pathogens, or preparation of prototype vaccines and therapies. The lessons about accepting uncertainty, risk and dramatic decision-making could also be applied to making rapid progress in other areas, such as Alzheimer’s disease, she said.

Why Deep Tech Matters

In a series of panel discussions, experts from academia, business, finance and government discussed the critical nature of some of the problems that deep technology can be used to solve, as well as some of the barriers to achievement of this objective.

Banmali Agrawala, president of infrastructure, defense and aerospace at Tata Sons, highlighted some of the “chronic issues” facing people in emerging markets, such as hunger, healthcare and poverty. poor education and climate change, and said that deep technology offers the possibility of a “quick fix” for these issues.

Speaking on a panel on deep technology and national security, Dr Deeph Chana, co-director of the Institute of Security Science and Technology at Imperial College London, said: “There is still a long way to go for the government to become sufficiently competent in technical matters. to understand what is happening in the technological space. This creates a huge problem when we talk about helping to create innovation processes and policies. »

Advancing deep technology

A common theme addressed at the event was the critical need for collaboration between business and academia to advance deep technology to help solve societal challenges.

Sir Ronald Cohen, Chairman of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investing, shared a positive message about the funding available for tech companies, stressing that “there is more money available than there is. There has never been for projects that want to produce impact as well as benefits”. .”

Professor Francisco Veloso, Dean of Imperial College Business School, said: “If we’re going to tackle some of the world’s fundamental challenges…we really need to use some of the technologies that are in leading labs around the world – and certainly at Imperial College – and think about how we put them in a position where they can go out into the world at scale and impact business and society at large. It is very difficult to do.

He went on to explain how the Imperial Institute for Deep Tech Entrepreneurship is using the College’s experience and connectivity to advance our understanding of these critical issues and the best ways to bring deep tech solutions to market.

Ramana Nada, Conference Chair and Professor of Entrepreneurial Finance at Imperial College Business School, closed the conference by reflecting on the importance of talent and in particular STEM talent in government and venture capital, as well as the potential of government to play a catalytic role. to get the most out of deep technology.

The conference was held at Scale space White City, the first workplace dedicated to helping scale-ups innovate and grow. Born of a joint venture between leading UK digital business builder Blenheim Chalcot and Imperial College London, the multi-disciplinary space is home to cutting-edge research, ideation and incubation environments with personalized support every step of the way. The scale space is based on the White City Innovation District (WCID) which is home to some of the most innovative organizations in the world, spanning life sciences, deep technology, media and creative arts. Learn more about WCID here.


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