We can programme plants to grow biomolecules. Is farming the future of vaccines?

On the southern outskirts of the city of Owensboro in Kentucky, US, there is a square, nondescript building. Inside, rows and rows of small plants are growing under artificial lights. This is a new generation biotech venture: a molecular farm. Others are springing up across the US and elsewhere – and they farm vaccines. This … Read more

How digital ‘twins’ are guiding the future of maintenance and manufacturing

Digital replicas of infrastructure such as oil platforms could help prevent accidents by spotting potential ruptures before they happen. Image credit - Akselos

by Tom Cassauwers As our world becomes more digitalised and connected, we can actually make a virtual copy of it. And such replicas are now being used to improve real world scenarios, from making aircraft production more accurate to preventing oil spills. A digital twin is a virtual replica of a real life entity, such … Read more

‘Turning science into business is about recognising opportunity’

Europe publishes more AI research papers than the US or China but turning research into a business remains a challenge. Image credit - ITU Pictures, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Scientists need to work more closely with entrepreneurs and financiers to ensure groundbreaking research in Europe can be turned into successful business opportunities, according to the recently appointed Chair of the European Innovation Council’s pilot advisory board. Professor Mark Ferguson, director general of the Science Foundation Ireland and chief scientific adviser to the Irish government, … Read more

Homemade energy gets boost to go mainstream

Viticulture is a good starting point for community-based energy initiatives, according to researchers, as it is both energy-intensive and vulnerable to climate effects.

By Gareth Willmer New rules and initiatives to support communities wanting to produce their own renewable energy could help ordinary people play a key role in the European Union’s transition to clean energy. These moves, which include new EU legislation and the rollout of so-called living labs around Europe, look set to bolster people’s growing … Read more

Blockchain could democratise banking, music – but at what cost?

Free blockchain-based platforms can make bank accounts accessible to those unable to afford regular banking technology.

Few technologies have the potential to disrupt old institutions as much as blockchain – a system that maintains records on huge networks of individual computers. As with any new technology, it could be used for social good – such as supporting people who are priced-out of the current bank accounts – but the big challenge … Read more