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Entrepreneurship and Innovation with Bio Data

Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship with Bio Data

Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship with Bio Data

We seek to understand this destabilizing character of the conjunction between “the byte” and “the gene” – digitization and biology for health futures. We do this through the lenses of digital infrastructure, innovation, and digital entrepreneurship.

At the moment, we engage in three main projects: (1) forming an international "Towards Health Futures" community to set a joint research agenda, (2) BioVenture Study Berlin, and (3) understanding value creation and approproation with bio data with ELIXIR (further details below).

What is new about bio data?

Use and re-use of shared data triggers new value creation mechanisms. Data can be used and re-used to create opportunities and generate benefits in ways that could not be foreseen when the data were created (OECD 2016). The interest in the potential of data harnessing and sharing has been reflected in recent IS conferences, where track themes include “Big Data Analytics and Business Transformation” (ECIS 2017, ECIS 2018), “Digital Ecosystems” (ECIS 2017, ECIS 2018), “Business Analytics and Data Science” (ECIS 2017), “Data Science, Decision analytics and visualization” (ICIS 2017), “Data Science and predictive analytics” (ICIS 2018) and “Bridging the internet of people, data, and things” (overall In research about platforms, infrastructures, or services that collect, store, or analyze data, the information system stays in the spotlight – not the role data itself (Jarvenpaa & Markus, 2018). The facilitation of data storage, curation and access is crucial for data to serve for multiple and possibly unexpected purposes (Tempini, 2017; Vassilakopoulou, Skorve, & Aanestad, 2018). Even a conversation about boundary resources – an artifact that enables this serendipitous purpose – tends to focus on the implemented API instead of the data that is exchanged (e.g., de Reuver, Sørensen, & Basole, 2017; Eaton, Elaluf-Calderwood, Sorensen, & Yoo, 2015; Ghazawneh & Henfridsson, 2013).

We seek to improve our understanding about the role of data and data infrastructures as a driver of digital innovation (e.g., Barrett, Davidson, Prabhu, & Vargo, 2015; Fichman, Dos Santos, & Zheng, 2014; Yoo, Henfridsson, & Lyytinen, 2010)and digital entrepreneurship (e.g., Davidson & Vaast, 2010; Kelestyn & Henfridsson, 2014; Nambisan, 2016).

Why biodata and why now?

We focus on bio data and data infrastructures, because of its under-representativeness in IS research while holding huge potentials for societal impact. Recent advances in biology promise new diagnostics, treatments, products, and services that change microbial, animal, plant, and ultimately human life (and death).

The collection, access, and analysis of bio data is getting cheaper and faster. Merely a few decades ago, sequencing of a single human genome took nearly 20 years and cost 3 billion dollars. Today, whole genome sequencing costs less than 1000$ and takes days instead of years. Thus, genome data infrastructures are growing exponentially (Birney, Vamathevan, & Goodhand, 2017). At the same time, predictive models developed from association studies require access to large-scale genomic databases. Technological advances in parallel or in-memory processing as well as machine learning hold the potential to largely reduce entry barriers to analyze this data by new ventures.

In effect, we not only see ventures in B2B that offer specialized diagnostics or patient-centered drugs, but also B2C companies with ancestry or health reports. Through the lenses of digital innovation and digital entrepreneurship, we might shed new light on how data and related infrastructures are created, processed, stored, and commercialized.


(1) Towards Health Futures (THF)

The Towards Health Futures community is a joint endeavor with colleagues Sirkka Jarvenpaa (University of Texas at Austin) and Michael Barret (University of Cambridge). Together, we engage with international scholars in information systems, management, and the life and natural sciences to set a joint research agenda on innovation, infrastructures, and entrepreneurship on bio data. We hold an annual conference.

March 2019: Berlin, Germany
March 2020: Austin, Texas (USA)
2021: tba, Online

(2) BioVenture Study Berlin

Under the lead of professor Hannes Rothe, the "BioVenture Study Berlin" examines venture dynamics in the field of bio and health technology in the capital region with the aim to uncover the underlying reasons for its stagnation at relatively low levels.The aim of the study is also to develop recommendations for the transfer of knowledge and technology at Berlin universities and research institutions in the field of biotechnology. On the basis of multiple rounds of analysis that involve mixed methods, relevant actors of the capital region receive recommendations for action and, as a result, new possibilities for better exploiting innovation potentials in the bioTech and healthTech sector through start-ups. The project involves partners such as Berlin Partner, Bio Deutschland e.V., Campus Berlin-Buch, the Berlin-Brandenburg Economic Development Corporation and corporate partners

It is funded by the Berlin Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Companies as part of the Industrial City Master Plan 2018-2021. 

(3) European Bio Data Landscape

Together with the open bio data infrastructure provider ELIXIR, we explore the impact of open data on new ventures in European entrepreneurial ecosystems. We seek to understand practices of creating and appropriating value from bioinformatics data in general, and genomics data in particular. Thus, we seek to reveal the role of open data on value creation, value delivery, and value capture (i.e., the business model) of bio data ventures across entrepreneurial ecosystems in Europe. For this purpose, we interview and survey numerous founders and senior managers across Europe.

The project is funded by ELIXIR.