Sheldon M. Schuster, President, Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Sciences Gail Naughton, Dean, College of Business, San Diego State University and Founder, Advance Tissue Science, Inc.
Michael Teitelbaum, Program Director, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Jessica Townsend, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Olin College
Sheldon M. Schuster began by discussing the need for management-oriented professionals in the field of life sciences, based on discussions with life science industry representatives. The Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences (KGI) was founded in response to an industry-driven need to bridge the gap between research and management. Schuster emphasized that science does not explicitly drive the life science/biotechnology sector, rather business does. Schuster presented the following framework, shown in Figure 4-1, which reflects the role of risk in determining the trajectory of a business. Specifically, he noted that the market drives industry, so adaptability is paramount and success is defined as moving the market forward.
FIGURE 4-1 Industry diversity framework.
SOURCE: Slide presented by Sheldon Schuster at From Science to Business: Preparing Female Scientists and Engineers for Successful Transition into Entrepreneurship Workshop on August 31, 2009.
Schuster further noted the gap in perception from academia to industry. He explained that in a recent survey, 92 percent of the postdoctoral life science fellows believed that their role in industry would be conducting basic science research. However, Schuster quickly added that in reality only 8 percent of jobs in the life science industry were in this area. Instead most jobs exist in other areas such as regulatory affairs, project management, corporate communications, quality assurance, clinical trials, production, intellectual property, corporate development, and marketing. Schuster explained that to perform in areas outside of basic science research, a technical background is necessary in addition to a thorough understanding of business. He went on to note that recent doctoral graduate students or postdoctoral fellows typically develop broad scientific knowledge and quantitative reasoning, but often do not develop a variety of other skills that industrial representations desire: ethical judgment, intercultural skills, teamwork, critical thinking, and adaptability.
According to Schuster, for researchers who have received a life sciences degree in the last ten years, most are currently postdoctoral scholars and earn roughly $38,000 a year. Schuster suggested that the current system is failing and doctoral students need to be educated differently. Schuster discussed the Postdoctoral Professional Masters in Bioscience Management program at KGI. He described the curriculum as a broad, team-oriented, project-based program, which focuses on enhancing the leadership and professional development skills of postdoctoral scholars, and providing extensive co-curricular activities. Schuster emphasized that the program is geared toward individuals who want to change their position and make an investment in their future.
Gail Naughton focused on educational programs that strive to better prepare scientists for roles in biotechnology and high-technology fields. She first provided a background context for the biotechnology field by emphasizing that scientists need to understand business. Further, she continued that business managers need to understand both scientific and regulatory components in order to be successful. As a consequence, Naughton stressed that educators need to teach students in the biotechnology field all of the parameters that contribute to a successful business venture, so that they are adequately prepared to overcome the high failure rate in the market.
To cater to this need, Naughton discussed efforts at San Diego State University, where they have launched a variety of degree programs, including an MBA in biotechnology and life sciences and a joint Ph.D./MBA degree program. She emphasized that one of the challenges with these programs is finding biotechnology-specific case studies. Negative data is rarely published, with the result that biotechnology entrepreneurs continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. Naughton stressed that in order to instill the passion for life science entrepreneurship and to train the next generation with the tools to be successful, it is important to write about the risks of these ventures, even in instances of limited triumph. Additionally, these business-driven degree programs highlight the role of intellectual property, discuss bio-ethics, place active venture capitalists in the classrooms to directly interact with students, and include finance courses focused on challenges related to the biotechnology field. Naughton further elaborated on the use of on-line courses to create flexible educational experiences for currently employed professionals in fields such as quality control and regulatory affairs.
She further underscored the proximity of these programs to the city of San Diego, where the thriving biotechnology industry enables students to interact closely with local professionals in order to build their personal networks. Moreover, Naughton noted that the biotechnology industry is becoming increasingly global. In response to this trend, the global entrepreneurship MBA at San Diego State University allows students to travel to China, India, and the Middle East during their educational experience. Naughton commented that this adds an additional layer to the entrepreneurial educational experience, as students interact with corporate partners and national laboratories to understand risk-taking on a global scale. She commented that all of the programs she discussed stress an entrepreneurial mentality that recognizes that employees should not be limited to specific tasks, but rather need to be able to adapt to any task that needs completing. This requires that each employee have a basic understanding of the entire company’s structure and practice.
In closing, Naughton emphasized the need for entrepreneurship-related education. Specifically, she stressed the need for biotechnology-specific business case studies and greater student interactions with industry leaders to develop networks. Naughton recognized the importance of increasing internship opportunities, of engaging students in this field at a younger age, and preparing students with the foundation to explore their passion in search of related opportunities.
“Sometimes ventures work, sometimes they don’t, but they are always very valuable learning experiences.”
-Gail Naughton, Dean of the College of Business, San Diego State University and Founder, Advance Tissue Science
Michael Teitelbaum focused his talk on Professional Science Master’s (PSM) programs that are “designed to prepare students for entrepreneurial careers.” At the time of this presentation, 77 participating PSM degree-granting universities exist in 25 states, with approximately 2,600 enrolled students and 2,600 alumni. Participation and program development has recently accelerated in certain regions and states, including Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and Oregon. Teitelbaum discussed the Sloan Foundation’s involvement in promoting such educational opportunities, as one of the few foundations devoted to science, especially at the advanced research level. He explained that the Sloan Foundation has expanded its programming efforts beyond academic career preparation by encouraging industry-oriented programs such as the PSM.
Teitelbaum indicated that the Sloan Foundation’s emphasis on PSM degrees is a result of the recent shift away from a sole focus on research-based careers among science and math students. He noted that approximately 80 percent of graduating doctoral students with science and math majors choose careers away from academia. He continued that given the foregone income, career risks involved in doctoral studies, and disrupted work-life balance, students - especially United States citizens - increasingly find doctoral degrees less attractive. Science-intensive employers, however, continue to demand workers with graduate-level science backgrounds as well as skills in project management, interdisciplinary work, computation, legal and regulatory fields, ethics, and a basic business background. Thus, pure research-focused
doctoral programs are often inadequate. The importance of a PSM degree is underscored by the fact that both corporate and government sectors are facing economic challenges, which lead to rapid product shifts and require businesses and their employees to be flexible and nimble. Additionally, globalization and off-shoring have created new challenges regarding long-term project trajectories and competition in low-cost emerging markets.
Teitelbaum further discussed the national status of the PSM degree to date. There are 145 U.S. PSM programs, indicating an increase in the number of programs and students. With regard to gender, Teitelbaum noted that a higher number of women are attending PSM programs than other programs: 47 percent of students in 2008 were women versus 38 percent who sought doctoral degrees and 40 percent that sought master’s degrees in natural sciences.1 The PSM degrees awarded in 2008 were further broken-down by discipline and disaggregated by gender to illustrate gender equity in almost all disciplines, except for financial mathematics and applied physics, as shown in Table 4-1.
TABLE 4-1 Percent of Professional Masters Degrees Awarded, by Gender and Discipline, 2008
|Microbiology/Cell and Molecular Biology||45%||55%|
|Financial Math/Industrial Mathematics||63%||37%|
|Applied Statistics/Computational Science||58%||42%|
|Food Safety/Pharmacology and Toxicology||50%||50%|
|Environmental and Geosciences||50%||50%|
|Total PSM Average||55%||45%|
SOURCE: National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics, 2008. Science and Engineering Degrees: 1966-2006. Detailed Statistical Tables NSF 08-321. Available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf08321/.
Teitelbaum hypothesized a possible rationale for the small gender gap based on interviews of current and former PSM students, which revealed that women were attracted to the program because of its fixed, compact nature and a perceived better work-life balance compared
1 National Science Foundation. (2008) Science and Engineering Degrees: 1966–2006. Detailed Statistical Tables NSF 08-321. **NPSMA, 2008.
to doctoral programs. It further provided a pathway for career re-entry after prolonged time away from the field. The students indicated that the skills developed during the PSM degree were versatile and portable, thus encouraging career flexibility. Finally, they emphasized that the opportunity for internships provided real-world work experience that enabled them to negotiate career transitions. In this way, PSM programs are able to encourage science-related entrepreneurship by attracting students who may otherwise choose not to pursue these careers.
Finally, Teitelbaum stated that PSM degrees have received tremendous support and enthusiasm from industry in the form of funding, placements, and mentorship opportunities. He noted that government agencies have launched equally encouraging programs through the American Competes Act and the National Science Foundation. Through this continued support, Teitelbaum suggested that the expectations for PSM degrees remain high and the Sloan Foundation envisions the PSM degree becoming a “normal” graduate degree and a favorable pathway for science entrepreneurs.
Jessica Townsend introduced the unique academic and engineering training space created by the 1997 charter at Olin College. She explained that Olin College has specifically addressed the undergraduate-level educational challenges associated with merging science, engineering and business. As a result, all students at Olin College are required to take three classes with an entrepreneurship focus:
• Fundamentals of Business and Entrepreneurship
• User Oriented Collaborative Design
• Senior Capstone Project for Engineering (SCOPE)
All first-year students complete the Fundamentals of Business and Entrepreneurship, where students interact directly with successful entrepreneurs, learn business basics, and are expected to use their advice to complete a project that challenges students to develop a new small venture. The second course, User Oriented Collaborative Design, is focused on identifying needs and opportunities within a group of people. For example, one group of students completed a course project about the needs of the bike messenger profession. The students spoke with bike messengers, learned their values, and even attempted bike messengering. Later, the students brainstormed products that could be developed to meet the needs of bike messengers and pitched them to bike messengers for feedback. Townsend emphasized that this course immersed the students in the fundamentals of understanding a market and determining technologies that would be relevant and successful. In the third experience, SCOPE, businesses challenge groups of approximately five students who are asked to tackle a real-world industry problem over the course of an academic year. Similar to above, students determine the values of their customers and then generate products to meet the determined needs.
“When women have an idea, they want to share. When men have an idea, they want to start a business.”
-Jessica Townsend, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Olin College
Townsend further explained that students have the option of specifically concentrating on entrepreneurship. Students
who choose this path take additional elective courses and complete a second SCOPE course that requires them to generate a business plan either alone or in a team. Interestingly, at this stage a gender divide is observed: while Olin faculty and student gender ratios approach equity, with women constituting 46 percent of the student body, just 25 percent of all students choose to add an entrepreneurship concentration and only 25 percent of those in the concentrating program are women.
Townsend suggested that this gender gap may result from the structure of the Olin concentration program, where students choose either an entrepreneurship or an arts/humanities concentration. Therefore, the numbers may not reflect a lack of women’s support or interest in entrepreneurship, but rather just be a factor of a difficult choice. Townsend remarked that compared to men, women are less likely to convert their business ideas into new ventures and often find it difficult to be assertive at networking events. Finally, Townsend stressed that her female students continually comment on the importance of hearing from female guest-speakers and other female role models as imperative to their confidence in pursuing entrepreneur paths.