The life science and biotechnology industries are crucial to Denmark, underpinning a significant portion of the economy and thousands of specialized jobs covering scientists, laboratory technicians, production staff and many more. Increasingly, however, this growing sector is also looking for employees that combine an understanding of science and business acumen.
“Having someone who knows both business and science means that we could save 2–3 years of further training of new graduates. This would enable us to accelerate the projects and the graduates’ own career paths. We still need specialists, but we see a lot of value from day one in someone who has a combined background,” says Kelli A. Hayes, Senior Director, Digital Transformation, Global Marketing & Business Support at Chr. Hansen.
CBS-BIO (MSc in Business Administration and Bioentrepreneurship), a new 2-year master programme, aims to bridge this gap. It was developed through collaboration between Copenhagen Business School (CBS), the Technical University of Denmark and the University of Copenhagen in partnership with key life science actors in Denmark, including Novo Nordisk, Novozymes, Chr. Hansen, Lundbeck and LEO Pharma.
A targeted programme
CBS-BIO combines a year of advanced biotechnology courses with a year of innovation and commercialization courses, hosted and supported by the participating life science companies. The students will also work with the life science start-up environment, specifically focusing on entrepreneurship at the BioInnovation Institute.
“We aim to establish CBS-BIO as a world-class bioentrepreneurship master programme, which will provide the industry with highly qualified and much-needed graduates. Based on cutting-edge science, we will work with real business cases, and an international body of students will build their networks within the industry as part of their day-to-day activities,” says Palle Høy Jakobsen, Programme Director of CBS-BIO at CBS.
Hence, CBS-BIO graduates will obtain a cross-disciplinary skill set that is relevant for intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship activities in life science companies, ranging from start-ups to established actors.
Bringing talented students to Denmark
CBS-BIO aims to recruit international students for the programme. After the students graduate, a further ambition is to retain them in Denmark for employment within Denmark’s life science industry to meet the increasing demand for these competencies. The international dimension will be ensured by collaboration with Nanyang Technical University, Singapore, CBS-BIO’s engagement in biotech hotspots in the United States and the participating universities’ general recruitment of international students.
“The life science industry is a growth industry – both established companies and the vibrant start-up scene that has emerged over the past decade. There is also a lot of potential to translate scientific research into new solutions that can improve health and sustainability. With this grant, our ambition is to help the industry with graduates who can accelerate these processes and further unlock the potential of the life sciences,” says Mikkel Skovborg, Senior Vice President, Innovation, Novo Nordisk Foundation.
CBS-BIO builds on the CBS BioBusiness & Innovation Platform (BBIP), which was launched in 2013. Starting with 25 students at the beginning of 2021, the intake will increase to 45 students and an additional 3 PhD students and postdoctoral fellows annually by 2024. The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded a grant of DKK 6.5 million to support the programme from 2021 to 2024.
The Foundation has awarded grants exceeding DKK 100 million to promote life science innovation in 2020. Some of these initiatives include the following:
- Innovation ambassadors will stimulate entrepreneurship at universities and hospitals: https://novonordiskfonden.dk/en/news/innovation-ambassadors-will-stimulate-entrepreneurship-at-universities-and-hospitals
- Health science researchers should (also) be entrepreneurs: https://novonordiskfonden.dk/en/news/health-science-researchers-should-also-be-entrepreneurs
- Aarhus University and the pharmaceutical industry join forces on open innovation – a pathway to new medicines: