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BIOTECH - Teaching biotechnology for human health: from the bench to the market

8 - Decent work and economic growth; Teaching Projects; 2014; 2015; 2016; 2017

Graduate programmes in Medical Biotechnology have their foundations in providing scientific knowledge and related technical skills, to be applied in research or professional laboratories.  Existing MSc/DSc courseworks are poorly homogeneous with no attitude to serve as a bridge between Industry and Academia. Medical biotechnology has been a major industrial sector in expansion during the 21st century and future biotech professionals should be capable to navigate with confidence through an increasingly complex business environment. However, although corporate biotechnology is a great employment opportunity for young graduates, today these degrees are not widely accepted in the European business arena. This is because MSc/DSc teaching is scarcely oriented in exploring activities past the bench work, such as industrial management of biotechnology products. The main goal of this proposal is therefore to organize a group of European partners including Academia and Industry that will be able to improve health biotechnology degrees and make them valid in more than one country.

The realisation of the project will entail the creation of multinational European Master programmes in the medical biotechnology field, implemented in close communication with partners from industry and other non-academic partners, all with missions in higher education. This innovative project will offer European-wide degrees, capturing the best of both traditional university courseworks and also providing solid cross-training contents for successful achievements in business or corporate environments. These degrees should supply academic biomedical training with the resources needed to aid graduate students and post-docs enter a workforce in private biotech companies. In these programmes, hard skills will be strictly linked to the acquisition of basic notions in areas such as management, marketing, intellectual property, communication, regulatory affairs, and business ethics. that will favor work placement in European Industry.

The project partners are from the Academia (University of Bologna, Italy; Oviedo, Spain; Pau, France; Pecs, Hungary; Aberdeen, UK), from the Industrial world  (Bioindustry Park, Italy) and from the Italian National Research Council (ISTEC-CNR). The academic partners have been selected due to their participation in previous European  projects strictly related to the present project’s aim such as  IP LLP Erasmus 2012-13 and 2013-14 -Summer School “Innovation and Technology Management in Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology". Cooperation and communication among project partners will be facilitated by the presence of an established network of collaborations created during the previous, successful Summer School project and the existence  of the binational Master degree program.

The current project will represent the logical follow-on from the previous project, with one specific additional objective: to improve relationships between the academic world in the medical biotechnology field and the job market in the industrial and private sectors.  The results will yield to the creation of a European network. This fundamental network should recognise at least three operative levels: the first is the teaching staff, the second is the institutional staff (university offices responsible for the didactic organisation and internationalisation and departmental offices), the third is the level created on the relationships between the industrial partners of the project. Another network level also exists, which is formed by the participation of the end-user of the project, the students. During the preparatory phase, the students will be able to benefit from knowledge and cultural exchanges aimed to the acquisition of the necessary transferable soft skills.  This final level will be created at the end of every year of activity during the intensive programme.

The results of the present project have the potential to be transferred and exploited in other European Countries.  Indeed, they derive from an in-depth debate during project implementation, between international academic and industrial partners about Europe’s future in the global biotech-healthcare sector, and whether Europe is equipping itself with the an efficient policy framework to encourage innovation, and importantly, retain it. In particular, the project will provide a wide spectrum of career advice to MSc/DSC students of Biotech, offering the participating fellows the opportunity to meet people from business development organizations. Once the new biotechnology courses have been accepted by partner universities, the impact will be assessed by measuring the satisfaction of the graduate students during academic training and by tracking down new graduates for their employment situation after studies have been completed,  i.e. how many go on to find employment and where.

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