• 4 November 2010
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BioSpectrum student lecture series @ Oxford College of Science, Bangalore

Lighting the lamp of knowledge: Narasimha Raju, executive director, Oxford Educational Institutions, inaugurates the BioSpectrum-Oxford College Lecture Series by lighting the lamp. Narayanan Suresh (Left), group editor, BioSpectrum, looks on
The event titled 'Exploring Entrepreneurship & Corporate Opportunities - Getting started on the career ladder' was held on October 13, 2010 at The Oxford College of Science campus in Bangalore.

The spacious conference room of the Oxford College campus was fully-packed with 700 vibrant students from top life sciences colleges in Bangalore. Speakers from all verticals of the life sciences industry addressed the gathering. The sessions were divided into five key topics - Opportunities in Biotech, Pharma and CRO; What it takes to be a biotech entrepreneur?; Preparing for the industry; Opportunities in BioIT; and Opportunities in Supplier Industry.

Catch-up with the trends

During his inaugural speech, Narayanan Suresh, group editor, BioSpectrum, gave a detailed brief on the evolution of life sciences industry in India, its consistent growth and the potential it has for the future. He gave insights on the emerging trends and promising areas of focus, to build a strong career in life sciences. He also shared the consistent efforts made by BioSpectrum over the past seven years, in covering major trends and developments in the life sciences industry.

BEST for students
Opening keynote speaker Dr Satya Dash, chief operating officer, Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises (ABLE) gave insights on the various career options available to biotechnology students, after graduation. He enlightened budding entrepreneurs about ABLE's business program for students - Biotechnology Entrepreneurship Student Teams (BEST). Held in conjunction with the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), BEST encourages college students to develop business plans and execute them in a competition, where the best ideas win awards.

Opportunities in life sciences
The first session of the event deliberated on the growing opportunities in the life sciences sector. The speakers impressed the students by opening wider horizons of opportunity available to them, and put forth ways to prepare for it.
Think outside-the-box

Dr Sridhar Ramanathan, executive director, ReaMetrix, suggesting ways to gain recognition in the industry, told the students to think outside-the-box. “Be creative, execute ideas proficiently, and show eagerness to solve problems in science. These are the three necessary qualities for success. In order to make it big in the industry, one must fit into any role that the company demands; and be open to learning new things,” he added.
Clinical research is not rocket science

Dr KH Ramanjaneya, managing director, SMO India, gave the participants an idea of what exactly happens in the clinical research field, and the key domains involved. He elucidated that clinical research is not rocket science; and those who study science can master it. He also briefed students on the prospects of Indian clinical research organization (CRO) sector; and added that the key to success lies in right education, experience and exposure-obtained through proper training.
Pay heed to experts
Welcoming the gathering, Narasimha Raju, executive director, Oxford Educational Institutions, said that the lecture sessions would provide an excellent platform in knowledge sharing for life sciences students. He urged the students to make good use of the valuable guidance by the industry experts, for the benefit of their future.

What it takes to be a biotech entrepreneur?
The second session of  the day gave students vital information on how to start a business, and go on to become successful biotechnology entrepreneurs. The speakers in this session shared their entrepreneurial experience with students.
Be ready to take risk
Dr Shama Bhat, managing director, Bhat Biotech, began the session on entrepreneurial skills with  insight on the procedures to be followed while starting an enterprise. He shared his experience on the challenges faced by start-up companies, and ways to tackle them. He also stressed the need to gain domain expertise, and gave tips on ways to develop an unique identity in the market.
Surety brings success
The second speaker, Dr Ajay Bharadwaj, CEO, Anthem Biosciences, gave insights on how to be a successful biotechnology entrepreneur. He advised students to begin their career in start-up companies, because this would give them the best exposure, and in-turn, provide a tremendous learning experience. He also went on to say that to survive in this industry, one must educate oneself and ensure that constant learning takes place. He asked the students to be sure about what they do - both in personal and professional life, to gain success.

Preparing for the industry
The third session of the day imparted valuable insights by human resources heads of prominent biotech companies.
High demand for competitive leaders
“Plenty of talent is available at the entry level - this has to be groomed and honed properly. There are many attractive jobs with better salaries available for talented people. Many finishing schools are available for students to make use of the booming opportunities”, said Ravi Dasgupta, head of HR, Biocon. He also said that life sciences students can opt for jobs in areas of R&D; operations; quality control and assurance; regulatory; sales and marketing; clinical research; intellectual property (IP) and law; project management; and administration.
Gen Y needs a wake up call
Thomas Putti, head, HR, Advinus, emphasized the need to bridge the expectation gap that exists between industry and generation Y (the new generation of students/job seekers). “Harmony is important in the workplace, as people work in a team to achieve the common goal of a company. There must be a compromise that has to be made, to function efficiently in the business world. As students, you should work on improvising your key skills” he said. In order to make students industry-ready, Advinus has started a finishing school to train students. In order to get the right job, one must have the right attitude, right knowledge and right skill,” he emphasized.
Opportunities in BioIT

Dr Anand Kumar, CMD, Cellworks, took over the stage for the fourth session that focused on opportunities in BioIT. He was highly optimistic about the opportunities that youngsters these days have for themselves, and went on to call this generation, “the innovating generation”.

Make the country proud
Dr Kumar urged students to be flexible in order to grow and become successful. He informed students of the tremendous scope for young graduates these days; and how they must make use of it and excel,  to make India the biggest pharmaceutical market in the world. He asked students to be familiar with patents and IP, and capitalize on their work to bring India the recognition and growth that is due.
Opportunities in supplier industry
Commenting on the opportunities in the supplier industry, Sekhar Ayyala, director of life sciences, Pall India, said, “Job openings for life sciences students are unlimited in India, as the life sciences sector, backed by the growth of biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors, provides great opportunity. Biosupplier sector is one of the promising sectors that provides career scope for freshers.”

Mold as per need

Ayyala stressed the need for developing the talent pool for growing opportunities. “Companies expect certain quality from students. Freshers need to upgrade their skills as per the demand of the industry, to withstand competition. Educational institutes should work toward imparting industry-orientation; bridge gaps between theoretical and practical knowledge; provide training for enhancing multi-tasking skills of students; strengthen academia-industry partnership; and create awareness of the trends in industry and the economy of the country,” said Ayyala.

The end of each session saw students participate in an interactive Q&A session.
The event concluded with a closing address by Suresh, who insisted the students make the most of the wide array of opportunities that are available. He also declared five lucky winners from the participants, and gifted them with one-year free subscription to BioSpectrum magazine.
The energy and enthusiasm of the students, evident at the event, reflected the promising future for the life sciences sector in India, led by this new generation of budding entrepreneurs.

- Pradeep Kumar & Martina Andrea D'Couto

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