CMI pioneers course in selling innovations

March 8, 2002

A groundbreaking masters course in bioscience enterprise has been put together in less than a year as the Cambridge MIT Institute begins to bear its first fruit.

The intensive year-long course will start running in September. Work has already begun to recruit 15 students in the United Kingdom who will join counterparts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.

Claire Cockcroft, who put the course together with the support of Cambridge professor Joe Herbert, visited the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting last month to meet prospective candidates.

She said that many students in the UK were keen to explore entrepreneurship so they could see their ideas and discoveries commercialised.

"Although many newly qualified scientists are prepared for careers in an academic environment, most are not geared up to life in the fast lane that an industrial setting or business world demands," she said.

The course is among the first projects to be launched by the CMI, which was set up as a joint venture between MIT and Cambridge University to help commercialise UK science and technology.

It aims to train future leaders in the bioscience sector by offering cutting-edge science with background in bioethics, law and regulatory issues as well as business management and the chance to learn from leading experts and companies on both sides of the Atlantic.

The curriculum has been developed in Cambridge alongside the biomedical enterprise programme at the Harvard-MIT division of health sciences and technology and the MIT-Sloan School of Management.

The first students will study at the Institute of Biotechnology, with input from the neighbouring Judge Institute of Management Studies.

Martha Gray, director of the MIT programme, said: "To generate successful ventures that ultimately lead to improved human health care, the leaders of tomorrow's biomedical enterprises must be able to rapidly transfer scientific research into useful products and services."

The success of the course could lead to similar projects emerging elsewhere in the UK. Dundee University is looking into this possibility. It will follow its progress closely through the CMI national competitiveness network.

Sir David Lane, a leading British bioscientist at Dundee, welcomed the course. He said: "To develop the UK's position in one of the key industries of the 21st century, we need to train outstanding individuals in the business and entrepreneurship of biotechnology to become the founders and leaders of new companies."

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