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Shaping the science-industry-policy interface in synthetic biology

: Gaisser, S.; Reiß, T.


Systems and synthetic biology 3 (2009), No.1-4, pp.109-114
ISSN: 1872-5325
ISSN: 1872-5333
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ISI ()
standardization; intellectual property right; security; public involvement; framework condition; knowledge transfer

Current advances in the emerging field of synthetic biology and the improvements in key technologies promise great impacts, not only on future scientific development, but also on the economy. In this paper we will adopt the triple helix concept for analyzing the early stages of a new field of science and innovation, namely synthetic biology. Synthetic biology is based on the creation and assembly of parts in order to create new and more complex structures and functions. These features of synthetic biology raise questions related to standardization and intellectual property, but also to security and public perception issues that go beyond the classical biotechnology discussions. These issues concern all involved actors in the synthetic biology field and affect the interrelationship between science, industry and policy. Based on the results of the recently finished EU FP-6 funded project TESSY (, the article analyzes these issues. Additionally, it illustrates the setting of clear framework conditions for synthetic biology research and development and the identification and definition of common goals for the future development of the field which will be needed for efficient science-industry-policy interaction. It was shown that it will be crucial to develop approaches that consider the needs of science and industry, on the one hand, and comply with the expectations of society, on the other hand. As synthetic biology is a global activity, the involvement of national decision-makers in international initiatives will further stimulate the development of the field.