You don't know what you don't know

The three pillars of bioentrepreneurship are (1) scientific and managerial talent, (2) technology and (3) money.

Unfortunately, the supply of both scientific and managerial talent is not meeting the demand. According to a recent National Science Foundation report, the demand for biotech workers is outpacing the rate at which U.S. universities are churning out graduates, and because academic institutions are not able to satisfy the industry’s demand for new PhD graduates with the requisite business skills, attracting and keeping workers is becoming an increasingly serious problem in the drug development process.

Three categories of employees are in the shortest supply: biologists to make discoveries, researchers to take those discoveries through the proof-of-concept stage, and people to plan and execute clinical trials.

In addition, physicians, particularly those in community-based practices, lack the knowledge, skills and abilities to get an idea to market. To make matters worse, most doctors don't know what they don't know when it comes to life science technology commercialization. Recognizing this unmet need, specialty societies, medical schools and other members of the life science innovation and entrepreneurship community should offer programs with clearly defined learning objectives for those who are interested in traveling on the life science innovation pathway.

Bioentrepreneurship learning objectives should include a demonstration of knowledge and skills in the legal environment, regulatory affairs, sales and marketing, international entrepreneurship, finance, leadership, technology transfer, translational research and development, global manufacturing and quality control, information and communications technologies and emotional intelligence "soft skills."

Global bioinnovation and entepreneurship should be a legitimate academic domain. Programs continue to develop around the world offering courses, certificates and graduate degrees in various aspects of life science technology commercialization. Leaders and administrators of these offerings should share best practices, define learning objectives that are aligned with industry demand, and measure outcomes.

The war for talent will be won, not necessarily on the playing fields of Eton, but in classrooms around the world filled with students eager to get their ideas to market.

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