A week of students and bioentrepreneurship

Well its been a testing week of continuing to stimulate the fusion of students, biotechnology and entrepreneurship in Aotearoa. This has included advocating student integration in biotech industry,  encouraging integration of entrepreneurship into university courses and programmes, strategising business plan and biotech idea competitions such to best encourage innovation/ enterprise in young scientists and stimulate the creation  of biotech spin outs from the University of Auckland. So it was only fitting that in a spark of coincidence that the editorial in the lastest Nature Biotech issue was startlingly appropriate. The article titledYes we can as well’ vented a industry need to foster student interaction with the industry while promoting bioentrepreneurship, particularly start-up creation.

‘ we need to do more to cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurial minds’

‘ bioentrepreneurial content hardly raises a blip in the radar of most university syllabi’

it is ‘crucial for the sector’s health’ to engage young people in biotech start-up creation

‘they [ the young ] provide a fresh and perhaps more far reaching perspective on biotech issues’

The editors point out several familiar bioenterprise programs and initiatives such as Harvard’s Biotech Club, YEBN and BioGENEius. One that I hadn’t come across before was the University of California’s Centre of Bioentrepreneruship. The Centre’s flagship programme is the ‘idea to IPO’ course focused on training life scientists and clinicians skills for bio start ups.

The University of Auckland [MBE course, Chiasma, Spark, Centre of Entrepreneurial Learning] and the NZ Biotech industry itself seems to be catering for this worldwide recognised need. To some degree it even appears that we may be addressing this better than our aussie counterparts if student attendance at the national biotech conference is anything to go buy. NZBio 2008 Conference – 10%+ students, AusBiotech 2008 Conference – <1% students [ of this 27% were from the University of Auckland]

Side Note:

Lately blog writing has been on the back burner as my attention has been directed towards pumping out PhD results ‘useful’  PhD results for a conference abstract submission. I am hoping to attend the 100th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, the largest cancer research conference of its kind, attracting over 20K delegates and is being held in Denver, Colorado. While I’m  primarily attending to present my doctoral research and gain insight into the latest developments in the field I can’t help but begin to investigate the State’s biotech activities, facilities and infrastructure. Particularly the industry support organisations, private companies, the universities, science parks and bio-incubation hubs.

The Colorado Science and Technology Park  @ Fitzsimons including the bioscience incubator. Very Cool.

The University of Colorado’s Tech Transfer Office. While their wesbite isn’t the flashest, their operations and results are. The TTO is focused on commercialising innovations only in the fields of life  (particularly human health) and physical sciences. It has formed 11 start ups, filed 188 US patents and made 58 option and licence agreements all in the past year. I particularly like how they display the IP in their pipeline available for licensing (http://techexplorer.cusys.edu/).

The Colorado Bioscience Association

INSERT (9.12.08) – The University of Colorado’s (Downtown campus) Bard Centre of Entrepreneurship has specialty in the biosciences.  The centre offers programs and courses that focus on bioentrepreneurship.


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