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Summary (IA Generated)
But there are many other jobs for budding scientists that also need extra business-oriented skills.
As African countries continue to develop, there will be more and more demand for these experts who help to address development needs and economic realities.
First, though, students need to be taught how to turn scientific innovations into business opportunities.
But such skills aren’t usually part of postgraduate science training, where the focus is instead on producing another academic bench scientist.
They can design courses to help bridge the gap between pure science and commercial research and development.
An encouraging sign is that a small number of African universities – such as Kenyatta University School of Business in Kenya and Makerere University in Uganda – have started to equip their science students with these skills.
In South Africa, the University of Pretoria offers a “Biotechnology in the Workplace” course to fourth year students as part of the Biotechnology Honours degree.
Here they’re encouraged to develop a business idea based on biotechnology.
This is supported by entrepreneurs and biotech industry experts who share their experiences.
They teach students about industrial demands, and help them with financial planning.
A business school, on the other hand, may not see entrepreneurship in science as part of its primary portfolio.
African universities must therefore actively try to establish these links with industry.
From the University of Pretoria experience, there are almost no staff members who have worked in an industrial environment for a long time.
In addition, academic scientists, who rarely have industrial experience, may not see their function as training students with an entrepreneurial bent.
It’s also not attractive to them because their achievements are primarily measured by how much they’ve published in scientific journals – not in teaching students about business.
Because of these challenges, rolling out bio-entrepreneurship courses might only be realistic for a very small number of universities in the short term.
Student teams from different UK universities take part in a competition which, with the support of experts, takes them from conceptualizing an idea and, based on real markets and financial data, helps them to put together a business plan.
For instance, the Society for International Bio-enterprise Education and Research (SIBER) is putting together courses that will be accessible online at a very low cost.
The organization is made up of scientists and academic institutions dedicated to supporting bio-enterprise programs around the world.
The Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Programs (STEP) at Case Western Reserve University in the US are a good example.