Big Data Infects Life Itself

Patrick Todd and Anix Vyas discuss the use of Big Data in the health care and agriculture industries.

Key Takeaways


  • The application of “Big Data” to life science industries such as medicine and agriculture holds tremendous promise, potentially enabling genetic interventions that could dramatically improve human health and agricultural yields.
  • While the collection of biological data has made tremendous advances in recent years, the analysis of that data—a more challenging task—has failed to keep up. However, recent advances in cloud computing, computer processing speed, and artificial intelligence are bringing us near an inflection point where data analytics could “unlock” the true value of biological data.
  • This raises the question: can companies currently sitting on large, proprietary biological data sets take advantage of these advances to achieve a Big Data profits explosion like that which internet companies have enjoyed in recent years?
  • Life science companies such as Monsanto, Novozymes, Chr. Hansen, and Regeneron could be poised for accelerated revenue growth. In the technology sector, companies such as Dassault Systèmes, Alphabet, and IBM have recently moved into the life sciences, looking to apply their world-class data processing to biological ventures.
  • Given the ever-present chance that biological tinkering will lead to unintended consequences, as well as the prospect of increased government regulation, investing in this area carries risks.



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