Kelly Kornet | Futures of Synthetic Biology
Professional Futurist and Design Researcher. Helping organizations generate forward-looking solutions.
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Futures of Synthetic Biology

Strategic Foresight

Futures of Synthetic Biology

Advisors: Greg Van Alstyne and Stuart Candy
Team: Broc Cairns, Ryan Church, Olabiyi Dipeolu and Kelly Kornet

How will policy drive the development and influence of Synthetic Biology by 2040? A strategic foresight exploration of the futures of synthetic biology.


Recent advances in the biological research have led to the development of synthetic biology - both opportunities for innovation and concerns for ethics. Taking a long-term view with policy recommendations in mind, we were tasked to explore the futures of synthetic biology for the year 2040.


Beginning with traditional scenario planning methods, we gathered and analyzed trends across disciplines and sources, ultimately using a 2x2 matrix to plot and imagine four distinct scenarios. The matrix explored extremes in both regulation (degree to which regulation is restricting/enabling research and development) and distribution of values (who’s interest is being served from the industry). In the research phase of our project, we discovered key players in the synthetic biology field. The Synthetic Biology Center at MIT has maintained a competitive edge in both innovation and education with a reputable list of industrial and academic partners and sponsors. Additionally, the Synthetic Biology Center (SBC) has actively promoted transparency in practice and the sharing of related information/knowledge/wisdom with their platform and program offerings.


Based on our understanding of key trends and possible futures, we developed a multi-tiered set of strategic recommendations for the SBC. The first set of robust options enabled the organization to draw from their existing strategy and core competencies with a set of activities that would perform well across all four scenarios. Our recommendations also included flexible and higher risk recommendations that could be implemented once the emerging landscape for synthetic biology became clearer.

Project Scope

> Scenario Development & Planning
> Strategic Foresight


April 7, 2014


Strategic Foresight