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Jobs and Businesses of the Future: Your Guess?

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Jobs and Businesses of the Future: Your Guess?

Postby Dave Jensen » Tue Mar 17, 2015 10:35 am

Let's have a thread about new categories of jobs, and new business opportunities, that may become important to all of us in the future. These areas should be representative of job categories that ScienceCareers.org readers would be interested in . . .

Here's my nomination for the most interesting development of the future. INSECT PROTEIN. In a few years from now, the pressure will start to build for feeding the planet. But even if this doesn't move to products edible by humans, insect protein will be important to other categories of protein such as animal feed and pet food.

Did you know that Crickets require only one-half pound of food to produce 1 pound of body weight? It takes 20 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef (which seems crazy to me), 10 pounds to produce 1 pound of pork and 5 pounds to produce 1 pound of fish and chicken. Eighty percent of a cricket’s body is edible, compared to only 55 percent of the body of poultry and pork, and 40 percent of the body of cattle.

Someday in the not-too-distant future, there will be startup companies producing a high-protein diet for pets that will come from insect protein. Then, perhaps it will move to a feed that will work with other mammals, and possibly even eventually humans. But they are so easy to raise, and the mechanized systems that would be used in insect rearing stations are already available. I can see jobs in this category to include not only the production and scale-up of the processes (much like working with fermentation and bacterial processes), but in the management and commercial development of these businesses. This is fascinating stuff and quite necessary for a world that will, in about 15 years, have the worst of times when we start running out of traditional foods. There is a business opportunity here, and that's the core of any new category of jobs -- It could work and it makes sense.

What other concepts do you see becoming reality -- thus, creating jobs of the future?

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Re: Jobs and Businesses of the Future: Your Guess?

Postby PG » Tue Mar 17, 2015 3:19 pm

On the same theme. Plant proteins/carbohydrates for energy production. Nothing as efficient as photosynthesis for clean energy production.
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Re: Jobs and Businesses of the Future: Your Guess?

Postby Dave Walker » Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:26 pm

An interesting topic! I racked my brain to think of similar "out there" types of Jobs of the Future, but I had a pretty tough time. Maybe I'm just too pragmatic?

Though I don't know if it will take off, I see an opportunity for the right niche of very small biotech startup companies. This is of course old hat in the tech industry, where a company only needs a garage and a computer with the internet to get started on its product. However, I think the biotech industry can steal some of these concepts to create their own system, as they are indeed doing in Cambridge, MA and elsewhere.

The concept of "virtual labs" promises something similar, essentially a CRO that works on one experiment at a time. This is another concept that is either too futuristic to work, or will become commonplace soon enough.

Also, I believe that eventually genetic testing will become routine for diseases and those prone to diseases. Unfortunately the genetic association for some diseases is quite weak or nonexistent, but this may change if enough discoveries are made.
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Re: Jobs and Businesses of the Future: Your Guess?

Postby E.K.L. » Wed Mar 18, 2015 5:02 am

Dave Jensen wrote:Let's have a thread about new categories of jobs, and new business opportunities, that may become important to all of us in the future. These areas should be representative of job categories that ScienceCareers.org readers would be interested in . . .

Here's my nomination for the most interesting development of the future. INSECT PROTEIN. In a few years from now, the pressure will start to build for feeding the planet. But even if this doesn't move to products edible by humans, insect protein will be important to other categories of protein such as animal feed and pet food.

Did you know that Crickets require only one-half pound of food to produce 1 pound of body weight? It takes 20 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef (which seems crazy to me), 10 pounds to produce 1 pound of pork and 5 pounds to produce 1 pound of fish and chicken. Eighty percent of a cricket’s body is edible, compared to only 55 percent of the body of poultry and pork, and 40 percent of the body of cattle.


I'd be careful hedging my bets on that one. I think with the era of gut microbiology approaching, we can expect heavy revisions in the food safety and food quality area. This would include not only novel methods of testing, but also better understanding of the connections of how food affects our health (especially considering obesity is a huge problem in industrialized countries). I would expect new legislation, but also new trends in agriculture and food production as a result, so it's actually difficult to foresee where we end up.

I'd say anything involving old age is a safe research area to invest in, on the other hand, as the industrialized societies grow older and the average lifespan longer. Examples would be regenerative therapies and biomaterials for implants.
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Re: Jobs and Businesses of the Future: Your Guess?

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Mar 18, 2015 9:05 am

E.K.L. wrote:
Dave Jensen wrote:Let's have a thread about new categories of jobs, and new business opportunities, that may become important to all of us in the future. These areas should be representative of job categories that ScienceCareers.org readers would be interested in . . .

Here's my nomination for the most interesting development of the future. INSECT PROTEIN. In a few years from now, the pressure will start to build for feeding the planet. But even if this doesn't move to products edible by humans, insect protein will be important to other categories of protein such as animal feed and pet food.

Did you know that Crickets require only one-half pound of food to produce 1 pound of body weight? It takes 20 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef (which seems crazy to me), 10 pounds to produce 1 pound of pork and 5 pounds to produce 1 pound of fish and chicken. Eighty percent of a cricket’s body is edible, compared to only 55 percent of the body of poultry and pork, and 40 percent of the body of cattle.


I'd be careful hedging my bets on that one. I think with the era of gut microbiology approaching, we can expect heavy revisions in the food safety and food quality area. This would include not only novel methods of testing, but also better understanding of the connections of how food affects our health (especially considering obesity is a huge problem in industrialized countries). I would expect new legislation, but also new trends in agriculture and food production as a result, so it's actually difficult to foresee where we end up.

I'd say anything involving old age is a safe research area to invest in, on the other hand, as the industrialized societies grow older and the average lifespan longer. Examples would be regenerative therapies and biomaterials for implants.


But you see, even your reply about the new types of testing required in the fields of gut microbiology and food safety indicate how jobs will be changing and opening up in new areas. You're sure right about the era of gut micro . . . One of our clients came up with a business in the area of the human microbiome, and within three years has a product in trials that is looking great.

Still, I think that old concepts of single-cell protein or the insect idea above will have to work out. I've had too many people tell me that we're going to hit a wall in 15 years if we can't get crops productivity up dramatically. That's what agricultural biotech was supposed to accomplish but there are still too many detractors . . . I think they might feel differently if they were hungry.

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Re: Jobs and Businesses of the Future: Your Guess?

Postby P.C. » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:43 pm

Possibly peddling certified nutracuticals. From recent reports most of them have a horrible chain of distribution giving rise to massive and endemic fraud, mislabeling and outright scamming. Most of those supplements and nutraceuticals have no testing or certification. People might like to pay a little to know that the Red Yeast Rice or whatever actually has the minimum ingredient and not is just rice and flower.
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Re: Jobs and Businesses of the Future: Your Guess?

Postby E.K.L. » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:51 pm

Dave Jensen wrote:But you see, even your reply about the new types of testing required in the fields of gut microbiology and food safety indicate how jobs will be changing and opening up in new areas. You're sure right about the era of gut micro . . . One of our clients came up with a business in the area of the human microbiome, and within three years has a product in trials that is looking great.

Still, I think that old concepts of single-cell protein or the insect idea above will have to work out. I've had too many people tell me that we're going to hit a wall in 15 years if we can't get crops productivity up dramatically. That's what agricultural biotech was supposed to accomplish but there are still too many detractors . . . I think they might feel differently if they were hungry.

Dave

I didn't mean the gut microbiology area is a problematic one itself (I certainly agree it's a hotspot now) but rather, that I expect the food legislation to undergo a big review in the years to come. And it is difficult for me to predict where it will go, which is why I'd consider it risky to invest heavily in a new food product that would require novel technologies.

A good example would be the recent debate on whether sweeteners can raise the risk of diabetes - for now we will have to wait for other studies, because one paper isn't much - but it shows the potential impact this new research area could have (the study in question was on gut microbiota).
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