A new star has entered the spotlight of public opinion, the media and, of course, the global scientific community, it’s called life sciences. The present pandemic has enhanced the relevance of this area, bringing it closer to the life of each one of us. But the importance of this discipline is certainly nothing new and its discoveries have made our lives better throughout history. Enhanced computing capabilities, exponential growth of easy to collect and analyze digital data sets, ubiquitous use of AI in robotics and diagnostic, in drug discovery and consumer electronics have opened the way to a new innovation phase based on the convergence of life sciences, biotech and digital tech. It is no coincidence that tech giants are increasingly entering a market that was once made up of purely life-science companies: Google created Verily, Apple possesses an entire Health division, Miscrosoft a group devoted to life sciences, NVidia has a dedicated practice.
What contribution can a business school possibly give in this science-tech field, to disciplines that have apparently nothing to share with management? SDA Bocconi has asked the question, and the answer has a name: LIFT Lab. LIFT Lab is a place for different industries and competences to come together and bring their respective knowledge to cross-fertilization. In line with the School’s cultural mission, LIFT Lab aims at being a pioneering think tank on cutting-edge topics, in the specific case the convergence between life sciences and digital technologies, with a focus on its impact on business and society. Directed by Anna Gatti, Associate Professor of Practice in Strategy and Entrepreneurship with extensive experience at the WHO and Big Tech corporations in Silicon Valley, LIFT Lab can rely on the cooperation with two well established SDA Bocconi competence centers – CERGAS and DEVO Lab – and a partnership with the MIT in Boston, as well as on contributions by a broad and multidisciplinary community of professionals, practitioners and researchers. SDA Bocconi thus becomes the first “non-tech” School to address the economic, business, regulatory and ethical aspects of life sciences with systematic rigor and the ability to integrate different perspectives.
Caring for practical fallout on entrepreneurial and corporate entities also means answering specific questions, such as: Which of these new technologies are proficient? Which ones are ready to scale to consumer markets? Is a specific new technology ready for my organization? Is my organization ready for this new technology? Does the right culture exist to successfully pursue innovation and, if not, how can we shape one? If Big Tech investments in life sciences have consistently increased for almost a decade and life extension has boosted demand, it is crucial to understand when technologies are ready for large-scale adoption and be well aware of the related financial, organizational, regulatory and ethical aspects.
Among the Lab’s founding members are life science companies and technology suppliers, professional services and consulting firms, financial companies and investors. Thanks to the strength of its network LIFT Lab can explore the convergence between digital technology and life sciences, assess investments in the industry, create a roadmap for biotechnology, define ad hoc business models, methods and measurement tools as well as business strategies and operations to leverage the new technologies.
Research is the elective means for LIFT Lab to build tailor-made and effective solutions. In more detail, LIFT Lab Radar is a tool to assess the ecosystem and impact of life science applications in mid- to large-size enterprises, supporting executives in decision-making processes. HIT Radar is the output of a methodological process designed to frame the landscape and outline a clear taxonomy of emerging life science technologies across all industries, assess them with an objective approach and be aware of their impact in the domestic economic context. Also, Lab’s founders can submit research topics intended to explore a specific technology or to consider several technologies in a comparative perspective, as well as fund a dedicated line of research.
SDA Bocconi School of Management.