The Biotech Industry – Trends in 2024

Since the fight against Covid-19, healthcare and biotechnology has taken the centrestage. Biopharma innovators raced against time to find a vaccine and antivirals for Sars-Cov-2 genome. Since then, with new diseases or new mutations of known microbes, biotech experts have been deemed warriors in their quest to protect humankind.

With the level of technological advancements currently at hand, and the access to information, the scope of biotechnology, especially in a post-pandemic world has increased exponentially. One must think of it not as a standalone field, but something that touches almost all aspects of our lives. It can be applied to many sectors – from food processing, animal science and nutrition to pharma, agriculture, healthcare, as well as environmental conservation. While there is no doubt that it is the next big thing, let us take a look at what this field entails and what lies ahead in the new year.

What is Biotechnology?

Biotechnology is an interdisciplinary field that covers many areas, which include biology, engineering, physics, mathematics as well as chemistry. It’s really the focal point between these. Simply put – it is a technology that creates a product or a process using a living organism, or a component of it, or any other biological system. This is the simple definition.

Biotechnology is actually a broad umbrella term that can mean anything from baking bread (which involves using yeast, a living organism) and reducing wastes to Gene therapy – a technique used to treat genetic disorders. Products developed using biotechnology help improve our lives and the health of our planet by modifying foodstuffs and medicines, reducing wastes and environmental impacts and creating renewable energy sources.

Real-time Relevance of Bio-Tech

Biotechnology is a field that has vast applications in pharma, agriculture, food sciences, nutrition, sustainability and so on. Technological advancements such as Machine Learning and AI are also playing a significant role in pushing the boundaries of nano-biotech and molecular bio-tech.

The entire industry functions at the cusp of innovation. Since the development of the COVID vaccines, there have been numerous other developments in the field in 2022 and 2023. Here are some of the biotech trends that we foresee in the coming year.

1. Synthetic biology:

In simple terms, it is where we have the ability to redesign partly or completely genomes or biological systems for more useful purposes. The designing of xenobots, engineering microbial synthesis to deal with environmental plastic waste, or developing genetically modified fibre crops to create sustainable waterproof materials are just some of the examples of advancements in the field in recent times. Environmental biotechnology has developed as a separate branch of biotech to help improve agricultural practices, create sustainable biofuels, improve soil health and overall reduce pollutants that are contributing to the climate crisis.

2. Bioprinting:

There have also been tremendous developments in the area of bioprinting to fabricate biomedical parts that can imitate natural tissue. As a result, one can foresee huge developments in stem cell technology. In simple terms, stem cells have the unique ability to differentiate into other cell types and are the key to cell therapy and regenerative medicine. With tissue engineering and bioprinting, and the other developments in stem cell technology, life science professionals are now working towards organ transplants and tissue grafts without donors.

3. Precision Medicine

will soon allow doctors across the globe to tailor medication and treatments for individuals based on their genetic make-up, lifestyle or even other factors, vastly reducing the risks of treatment. The global market projection for personalized medicine is expected to cross $869 billion by 2031. While the opportunities are immense, it is not without  challenges. Issues with data privacy, consent, and ethical considerations are to be worked around carefully. Cutting edge technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning can be integrated with biotech to enhance treatment recommendations and predictive models. In conjunction, regulatory agencies like the FDA will be required to streamline testing processes to enable quicker commercialization of the latest technologies.

4. Gene Editing and sequencing:

At the core of its development lies gene editing with CRISPR technology. Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (or CRISPR) has originally been a part of bacterial defence mechanisms. Today, we have the technology to use it as a precision tool for editing genes in various organisms, including humans. With future developments, CRISPR tech can be used to develop treatments and interventions for complex ailments such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and autoimmune disorders. Eventually, this technology can cause paradigm shifts in our understanding of oncology as well.

5. BioTech and Big Data:

As with other industries, the biotech sector will also become data-driven. Be it pharmaceutical companies, predictive analysis, gene editing, AI-powered diagnostics or drug development, analysis of big datasets will provide crucial insights for future breakthroughs in the biotech industry. “Pharma will keep closing the digital transformation gap,” predicts Alister Campbell of Dotmatics. “Life science companies will start to see the fruits of digitalization as they increase the use of drug repurposing, making it easier to navigate the swaths of data that have previously been locked away in silos, unlocking the potential of drugs that have been shown to be safe but missed initial clinical endpoints.” (Source: Bio-ITWorld)

6. AI in Drug Discovery:

Towards the end of 2023, the phrase AI in drug discovery became a buzzword, with AI-powered technology and machine learning  assisting research carried out by biotech companies. These new drugs have gone till the clinical trial phase, despite shortage of data. In 2024, the role of AI in the pharma industry is bound to be more discerning with the use of ML algorithms that can facilitate the design of precise drug molecules or optimization of automation. In addition, this tech is being used by biotech startups and research scientists for biomarker discovery which can open new pathways for early disease detection and treatment response monitoring.

7. Growth of biopharma:

2024 will also see the biopharma segment transforming biotech. As opposed to conventional pharma, biopharma involves the study and the process of deriving agents such as monoclonal antibodies, vaccines, and gene therapies that can change the course of treatment.

Biotechnology and the Global Market

Over $1.2 trillion! That is the value of the global biotech market, as of November 2023, as reported by NASDAQ. This number is potentially expected to triple in value by 2030.

The reason for this growth can be summarised by the following points:

  • There is a globally increasing demand for advancements in drugs/ treatments/ therapies, particularly in the form of personalised/ targeted therapies.
  • The healthcare industry is stretched thin in trying to cope with long-persistent conditions such as diabetes and cancer.
  • Biotech advancements play a key role in our fight against climate change, as it can provide more sustainable replacements for some of our synthetic products.
  • Agricultural biotechnology is also a critical factor, as there is a global demand for superior pest-resistant or nutrient-rich produce to sustain the growing population.
  • The recent developments in data science have also pushed the growth of bioinformatics, allowing scientists and researchers to process and analyse huge volumes of data more efficiently.

Global Biotechnology Market Revenue, By Application 2021-2030 (US$ Bn)

Source: Precedence Research

What are the work opportunities in Biotechnology?

A career in biotechnology is not just confined to lab coats and laboratories. It’s a diverse field and so is its career path.

Some of the popular jobs in biotechnology include:

  • Biomedical Engineer
  • Biochemist
  • Process Development Scientist
  • Microbiologist
  • Business Development Manager
  • Product Strategist
  • Biomanufacturing Specialists
  • Bioinformatician
  • Biophysicist
  • Biotechnology Laboratory Technician
  • Clinical Research Associate
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Quality Control Analyst
  • Crime Lab Technician
  • Agriculture/Food Science Technician
  • Epidemiologists

Top Universities in the world to study Biotechnology

Here is a list of the top universities in the world, if you are planning for a career in the field of biotechnology.

World University Ranking University Location
1 Harvard University Cambridge, USA
2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, USA
3 Stanford University Stanford, USA
4 University of Oxford Oxford, UK
5 University of Cambridge Cambridge, UK
6 ETH Zurich, Switzerland
7 University of California Berkeley, USA
8 UCL London, UK
9 University of California San Diego, USA
9 Yale New Haven, USA

All these point to the fact that biotechnology will continue to remain a critical part of the society as it will continue to be used toward the well-being of the society, to improve the quality of life and also to ensure a higher quality of life to our future generations.

If you have the inclination and bent of mind that leads you to a future in Biotech, you should consider it seriously. It has immense scope for employability – now as well as in the future.

Let’s get you into top biotech courses with no stress

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Find out more about the role of biotechnology in modern society.

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