NCBCPresentation1 24 2006

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Information about NCBCPresentation1 24 2006

Published on October 1, 2007

Author: Charlo


Slide1:  “Putting your science to work: exploring opportunities in the North Carolina biotechnology sector” Rob Lindberg, PhD, RAC Technology Development Director North Carolina Biotechnology Center Slide2:  What this is: An effort to paint a picture of the local industry landscape (and what makes it tick), and make some suggestions about how to access it. What this is NOT: An attempt to lure you away from a promising academic scientific career. Disclaimers Overview:  General thoughts about transitioning from academia to private sector Opportunities for recently minted PhD’s and postdocs What factors drive a company’s decision to hire scientists? Local industry at a glance (who’s doing what) Differences between large corporate and small entrepreneurial company environments The value of networking Local resources for your job search Overview Transitioning from academia to industry:  Transitioning from academia to industry This transition is tough for life scientists, in part because: Universities typically train life scientists for careers in academia, not industry (unlike engineering, business, law, etc.); few industry internships for scientists Academia and industry have different values, drivers, and metrics for success Slide5:  Academia: Design, perform, and publish original hypothesis-driven basic research Success (tenure, lab space, etc.) is awarded to the individual and is measured by discovery; publications; grants; prominence in field; and service (teaching and training of students; interaction with public; uncompensated editorial, journal/grants review or organizational work; etc.). Industry: Design and perform directed and applied research (as guided by the research director or company, and driven by investors, market and/or relevant regulatory agency); provide a highly-documented, fixed deliverable (results) to enable the company to make its next “go/no-go” technology development decision. Success (continued employment, opportunity for advancement) is shared as a team for results that are consistently on-time and on-budget. It is essential to be productive in both environments. What you produce is likely to differ. Differences in Corporate Cultures:  Differences in Corporate Cultures Large corporation – narrowly defined roles and responsibilities; not much cross-talk between groups at the non-executive levels (“silo”); relatively slow pace of change; justify and work within a budget, but typically not responsible for raising money Entrepreneurial companies – small, nimble, react swiftly to change, always strapped for cash and seeking funding; the smaller the company, the more diverse the responsibilities each employee has. Small companies often need to outsource some or all of their product development activities (“virtual” company). These are gross generalizations that do not apply to every situation, but are intended to encourage you to do some soul-searching about what type of work environment best suits your personality. Realities of early-stage companies that affect you:  Realities of early-stage companies that affect you Early-stage companies are always in a quest for cash (revenue, investment from angel and venture funds, SBIR grants, enabling partnerships with other companies). Without cash, they’re not hiring anyone (we’ll talk later about resources for knowing who’s receiving funding). Investors in early-stage companies are primarily betting on the management team and the market opportunity for the technology, and less on the inventor and the scientific merit of the technology. Founder’s Dilemma – investors and management want to create a company that can become independent of its scientific founder. Sometimes the scientific founder thinks he/she can lead the company all the way through its life cycle or has great difficulty trusting the commercialization of the his/her pet technology to the business experts (in reality, commercialization almost always requires a vast spectrum of skills other than scientific expertise). NC Biotechnology Industry at a Glance:  NC Biotechnology Industry at a Glance 3rd leading state (behind California and Massachusetts) based on number of biotechnology companies (Ernst & Young, 2005) NC Industry Breakdown (# companies, # jobs by category; as of Jan. 3, 2006): Bioscience (R&D, discovery) Companies: 198 26,701 Includes therapeutics, diagnostics, agriculture, veterinary, industrial, marine Contract Research Organizations (CROs): 83 16,234 Includes clinical trials management, regulatory support, analytical chemistry, ADME, toxicology, etc. Medical Device or Related Companies 61 3,112 Service Providers 348 27,046 Important infrastructure component (you can’t grow this stuff in a vacuum) Includes patent and corporate law firms; entrepreneurial support organizations; consultants; economic development agencies; wet lab space (lease, engineering, construction); angel and venture funds; university tech transfer offices; sales/marketing support; lab supply houses; employment/staffing; accounting/management/business development services Exploring the landscape (finding out about companies):  Exploring the landscape (finding out about companies) Companies database on NCBC website (; searchable listing and brief descriptions of companies (technology, management, # employees, links to company websites, etc.) RL cheat sheets of companies categorized by nature of technology, therapeutic area, and university origin ( NCBC library (more extensive due diligence on companies, markets, etc.) NCBC newsletters (FastNews, BT Catalyst); news regarding local companies (funding, management changes, etc.) Networking Networking and industry awareness:  Networking and industry awareness Council for Entrepreneurial Development (calendar of events at; you don’t have to be a member to attend most events (and there’s usually an academic discount) UNC OTD seminars (know your tech transfer people and something about how intellectual property is developed and protected at the university, as well as technology commercialization in general) Kenan-Flagler entrepreneurial faculty, Launch the Company/Venture NCBC Biotech Forum series NCBC Intellectual Exchange groups and other scientific meetings and/or societies that mix academic and industry researchers Explore any sponsored research arrangements or other industry contacts that your faculty advisor may have and ask him/her to introduce you to those companies as appropriate. People in this community seem remarkably motivated to be helpful (this is not true for every community). Utilize this resource, but be respectful of people’s time and make it easy (painless) for them to help. If you’re imposing on them, they’ll let you know. Other networking thoughts:  Other networking thoughts People in this community seem remarkably motivated to be helpful (this is not true for every community). Utilize this resource, but be respectful of people’s time and make it easy (painless) for them to help. If you’re imposing on them, they’ll let you know. Avoid showing up at networking events with a stack of résumés or CVs under your arm. This puts unnecessary pressure on potentially helpful people (better to meet, listen and learn). Do your homework. Doing your homework:  Doing your homework Follow the money – the best clue to the company’s plans is sometimes found between the lines in press releases following a large investment or partnership deal (often specific to one product but not others). There are many industry e-newsletters published with these notices. Identify the stage of development of the company’s product(s): Basic Research Proof-of-Principle - pivotal study in the context of a given commercial application Optimization Commercialization Many companies specialize in developing products through a particular phase of development. If that specialty is Phase II-III clinical trials or pure sales and marketing, there probably isn’t a role for a bench scientist. Distinguish between “virtual” companies (most or all of the development work is outsourced), clinical development companies, and consultancies vs. those likely to employ scientists (just because they have “Bio-” or “-Pharma” in the name doesn’t tell you much about the company). Other NCBC Resources:  Other NCBC Resources Jobs page at NCBC library - to explore press releases or competitive intelligence on companies, markets for specific products NCBC Collaborative Funding Grant – funds a postdoc to work in an academic lab on behalf of a company-initiated project for 1-3 years. CVs, Résumés, and Cover Letters:  CVs, Résumés, and Cover Letters CV (academia): Pedigree; an historical document showing where you’ve been and demonstrating independent thought through publications and grants. Résumé (industry): Ability to meet a stated need; a forward-looking document demonstrating relevant successes and accomplishments that suggest your ability to meet their needs. Use a cover letter tailored to position yourself for a specific job; tell them what to think about you. Be specific about what position/role you want. Don’t rely on the company to figure out where you might fit – that’s your job, so do your homework ahead of time. Industry concerns about the newly-minted PhD, Postdoc :  Industry concerns about the newly-minted PhD, Postdoc “Too junior to be a senior scientist, over-qualified for a lab tech position” A senior scientist typically directs a team of technicians, without a lot of intermediary positions (except in larger companies) With a few exceptions, someone coming straight out of a PhD or postdoc is not Senior Scientist material yet. “But they’ll get a set of hands AND a great mind, all for a technician’s salary!” (many companies are concerned that they will invest a lot in training you, only to have you get bored with the often repetitive nature of the work and leave). Concern about the academic “prima donna” / “star” stereotype – are you a team player? Deadlines rule – can you demonstrate a history of hitting them in your background? Documentation protocols for relevant regulatory agency (e.g., GLP, cGMP for the FDA) – you generally don’t get this training in academia Conclusions:  Conclusions North Carolina is a great place to be for you right now; it’ll be a better place when the funding climate improves for early- and mid-stage companies. Serendipity is a wonderful thing – you can’t predict when and where opportunity will knock, but you can make sure that you’re at the door. Start making contacts and establishing your credibility early, before a job is posted in the classifieds. It’s very difficult to compete for a position without an internal champion. Be prepared to move swiftly – a company may express a need today that it may not have tomorrow. Be flexible. Many (most?) of us find ourselves in roles very different from where we set out to go – and that’s OK. Be productive now. Sometimes, the only way for a company to assess your likely productivity for them is through your history of productivity (publications, high regard in your research area). Follow your passion. Other Resources:  Other Resources Robbins-Roth, Cynthia. Alternative Careers in Biosciences (1998) Louise, Chandra. Jump Start Your Career in Bioscience (1998) Gimble, Jeffrey. Academia to Biotechnology: Career Changes at Any Stage (2004) Slide18:  Rob Lindberg, PhD, RAC Technology Development Director North Carolina Biotechnology Center

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