hey scientist - do you care about business?

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cdnsciguy
cdnsciguy's picture
hey scientist - do you care about business?

I was curious to know how many research scientists care about the business side of biotechnology. Having been lucky enough to attend the howard hughes medical institute for my education, i found that while the research was 'top notch' the ability for most fo these researchers to be involved in the business side of the science, was, well..lacking. Now, you may say "this is not what we, as scientists, are trained for"! This is true. But for those of you who are just happy to run gels and clone genes for the rest of your life, you should still care. This is becasue I can tell you that biotech companies are wondering where the future leaders who will run these companies are. And if the leadership isn't good, the company will fail...and there will be fewer jobs for you to run your gels and clone your genes.
So what is being done? Well, the biotech community in San Diego came to UCSD (university of california san diego) and said....ummm, help! So an MBA program for Ph.D. scientists was created. There is even a class called "from lab to market" which helps people who are 'running gels and cloning genes' actually make money from thier research - instead of just sweating about getting the research into a good journal.

So my question to anyone out there is - what is the future of biotechnology in the business world? This is an open ended question for you scientists. Any lack of interest in answering this question should speak volumes....

vadelmar
vadelmar's picture
Scientists who are interested

Scientists who are interested in the business end do exist (i.e. myself), but not a lot of time and educational opportunities are there for us to take advantage of. I think it also needs to come from a combination of the science and the business departments at the university level. Why not learn business skills while getting a PhD? Unfortunately in my experience the science departments are reluctant to have a "culture change". I believe it would be best initiated by the business departments or from the biotech industries (especially if they wanted to fund some of it).

The MBA program at UCSD is a great start, but I think we still have a long way to go. It doesn't change the fact that so many of PhDs are entering the biotech work force with no business know-how. It would be so much more efficient to be able to learn some of these skills along the way as electives in our curriculum.

bvanrent
bvanrent's picture
I was a research scientist in

I was a research scientist in my former life prior to joining the editorial staff at a journal. The background from graduate school and my post-doc allowed me to oversee manuscript evaluation and assign reviewers but it was my "on-the-job" training that enticed me to appreciate the marketing and business aspects of science. The marketing and sales types don't often understand their products and the audiences they are selling to; therefore, it takes an interested scientist to communicate this information in a way these folks can understand. The public relations aspect of this, especially on the exhibit floor at a large scientific meeting, is a great environment in which to experience this first-hand.

mary-annRSA
mary-annRSA's picture
I currently work for a trust

I currently work for a trust which funds ne biotechnology business ventures. I can agree that business skills are not easily found in scientists. It is however attributed to the lack of encouragement towards becoming entrepreneurs. One of the obstacles we try to overcome in order to build our South African biotech economy is in trying to convince academics to patent their technology before publishing.

While there are only a few scientist with the business inclination, it must also be acknowledged that it takes a special kind of scientist to place part of their passion in business in order to make it a success. There is also the fear of failure which cannot be ignored.
Overall, i applaud those institutions which offer double degrees and programs incorporating both business and science. I too, think it is the way of the future.
Being passionate about advances in science and new discoveries is great and I think most scientists like the freedom of running their own labs and doing their own experiments. But for the few people that want to take an idea and start a business - there are resources such as myself that will be able to help.

Jason King
Jason King's picture
cdnsciguy wrote:I was curious

cdnsciguy wrote:

I was curious to know how many research scientists care about the business side of biotechnology. Having been lucky enough to attend the howard hughes medical institute for my education, i found that while the research was 'top notch' the ability for most fo these researchers to be involved in the business side of the science, was, well..lacking. Now, you may say "this is not what we, as scientists, are trained for"! This is true. But for those of you who are just happy to run gels and clone genes for the rest of your life, you should still care. This is becasue I can tell you that biotech companies are wondering where the future leaders who will run these companies are. And if the leadership isn't good, the company will fail...and there will be fewer jobs for you to run your gels and clone your genes.
So what is being done? Well, the biotech community in San Diego came to UCSD (university of california san diego) and said....ummm, help! So an MBA program for Ph.D. scientists was created. There is even a class called "from lab to market" which helps people who are 'running gels and cloning genes' actually make money from thier research - instead of just sweating about getting the research into a good journal.

So my question to anyone out there is - what is the future of biotechnology in the business world? This is an open ended question for you scientists. Any lack of interest in answering this question should speak volumes....

I think you have a lot to learn about economics (both social and financial).

People will be successful if they really want to do something. If they want to become excellent creative scientists then they will make decisions that untimately lead to them achieving this. If they want to go into business and make a lot of money then they will make different decisions.

I think it is a good idea to give scientists (at an early stage in their training) information about what makes a scientific development interesting from a IP point of view. Then they will be better able to spot potential opportunities. Whether they decide to go down that path will depend on their ultimate aims.

What I'm saying is that it is not for institutions / government to decide that there must be more bio-entrepreneurs and to practise a supply-led strategy. This would be wasteful. Economics shows that demand-led systems work best and result in the most successful organizations. ie. People who want to study a bioscience and then want to take a development into the commercial arena will do so and will often be successful. More so than people who come from wealthy families and have no drive to achieve anything at university, in research or commerially.