European societies are currently experiencing a period of techno-scientific and societal transformation comparable in scale and scope to previous upheavals such as the industrial, the green and the biotech revolutions. Innovations in life science and the emergence of new bio-based industries offer unprecedented opportunities to establish more sustainable and resilient production systems in terms of energy, materials, agriculture and the environment. Such innovations will be crucial to efforts to meet major societal challenges, not just within Europe but globally. But in moving towards a sustainable bio-economy, regions and nations face a range of major challenges and potential conflicts that necessitate new research agendas and a new vision of society.

LISTEN, the Life Science, Innovation and Society Network, has been set up to help life sciences consortia, policy organisations and civil society to address these challenges by developing new research and policy agendas based on outstanding social science and humanities expertise concerning the societal dimensions of new and emerging life sciences.

LISTEN’s mission is to use our collective expertise and experience to help overcome the challenges on the path to sustainable bio-societies. In pursuing that mission, LISTEN has two fundamental aims:

First, we aim to identify, investigate and address strategically important topics and issues related to the emergence of bio-economies and the creation of bio-based societies. Building on past achievements in genomics and related areas, we will expand our research networks and methodologies to address new emerging and converging fields and topics in the post-genomic era of synthetic biology, biomaterials and bio-nanoscience.

Secondly, we aim to build socio-technical capacity to address such issues by strengthening the links between (bio)science and (bio)society and by fostering productive engagement and exchange between emerging life sciences, politics, business and industry, funding agencies, intermediary organizations and media active in the biosector.