New generation of “business savvy” scientists

New generation of “business savvy” scientists

Ambitious moves to bridge the gap between Scotland’s scientific talent and the potential business opportunities it presents are today revealed by the University of Aberdeen.

The launch of Scotland's first programme to help create the next generation of "business savvy" scientists and entrepreneurs was welcomed by key figures from science and commerce. 

From next October the University will offer all undergraduates studying for medical sciences degrees the opportunity to build into their degree a pioneering new Biobusiness programme.

The new programme will give students an unprecedented insight into the rapidly expanding life sciences industry – a sector where Scotland's excellence is acknowledged around the world.

They will get the chance to run their own virtual biotechnology company, see if they have what it takes to be a director of a business in this burgeoning sector, and develop the skills required when pitching for funding.

They will also learn from renowned and respected scientists and lawyers – all key players in their fields - who will form an industrial liaison group specifically to help nurture the students.

And one of their key lecturers will be an award winning University of Aberdeen scientist who has experienced at first hand tremendous commercial success.

Professor Andy Porter was a co-founder of University of Aberdeen biotech spinout Haptogen Ltd, which was acquired by the Wyeth, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, in a deal witnessed by Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond.

The Professor of Biotechnology, who is an adviser to the Scottish Government and has established a small venture fund investing in Scottish biotechnology companies, said: "Scotland has led the world with many groundbreaking scientific breakthroughs. In fact science in Scotland by GDP can be considered the best in the world.

"But when it comes to commercialising our science – making that challenging but critical journey from the lab to the marketplace – Scotland could do so much better.

"Our pioneering new Biobusiness programmes will achieve this by producing graduates who are both first class scientists but with the potential to be the next generation of bio-entrepreneurs."

Dr Heather Wallace, Co-ordinator of Postgraduate Studies within the University's College of Life Sciences and Medicine Graduate School, is leading the new programme. She added: "The new Biobusiness programme for undergraduates builds upon our hugely popular MSc for postgraduates and compliments our new MBA programme in Biotechnology.

"Industry is crying out for first class scientists who are also "business savvy.  Experience shows us it's easier to transfer business skills to a scientist than vice versa.

"This complete suite of study for students, whether they are undergraduate or postgraduate, once again underpins Aberdeen's reputation as a centre of excellence for life sciences."

Dr John Brown, Chairman of Biotechnology Industry Association (BIA), Scotland, said: "I am certain that the biotechnology industry will welcome this exciting development at the University of Aberdeen.  The idea of generating business savvy graduates without compromising science teaching quality is exactly what our industry requires and will help to maintain Scotland's leading position in this sector.  I hope students that benefit from these courses will go on to become the bio-entrepreneurs of tomorrow."

Professor Anne Glover, Scotland's Chief Scientific Advisor and Co-chair of the Scottish Science Advisory Council said: "In terms of Scotland's size, we are world leaders for the quality of our research, as demonstrated by the rate that our research is cited internationally.

"However, the commercial potential this creates is not always fully realised. Science is key to our future economic success. I am delighted that the University of Aberdeen has launched this new biobusiness course, it will help to ensure that our future scientists have the skills necessary to turn technology developments into real commercial success."  

Professor Stuart K Monro OBE, Scientific Director, Dynamic Earth Enterprises Ltd and Co-chair of Scottish Science Advisory Council, added: "The University of Aberdeen's new Bio-business degree is an exciting innovation capitalising on Scotland's excellence in bio-medical research and drug development but recognising the challenges in taking this science to market.

"Bio-businesses graduates will hopefully be the bridge between the fundamental research and the business community, helping our research base to contribute even more to Scottish economic growth."

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