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Communications of the ACM

Technology strategy and management

CRISPR: An Emerging Platform for Gene Editing

gene editing, illustration

Credit: Shutterstock

When thinking about which areas of research might form the basis for new industry platforms, in the past we have focused on information technologies such as computers, Internet software, smartphones, cloud services, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and even quantum computing (see "The Business of Quantum Computing," Communications, Oct. 2018). These technologies early on had the potential to generate what we call "multi-sided markets" with powerful "network effects." Network effects are self-reinforcing feedback loops where, as the number of users or complementary innovations increase, the more widely used and valuable the platform becomes (see "The Evolution of Platform Thinking," Communications, Jan. 2010).

Another early-stage technology suited to platform dynamics is gene editing. Research began several decades ago, leading to various tools and techniques. It is still uncertain which approach will become the dominant foundation for further research and applications development, but there are some platform candidates.


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