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Dra. Marta Príncep

Biocat director of Innovation


A few Sundays ago, reading the paper, I came across a curious paradox in the juxtaposition of two articles. On one hand, there was an article analyzing the attitude with which Spanish society is facing the recession, which is certainly devastating when the vast majority of people expect the government to solve all their problems.

On the same page was an editorial on the latest book published by entrepreneur Muhammed Yunus, who has set aside diagnostics and applied innovation solutions –a word that, in this case, takes on its true meaning of inducing cultural change– to a problem that in theory had no solution: mitigating chronic poverty through microcredits.

Science in general and biotechnology and medical sciences in particular are fields that aim to improve social wellbeing. And in these fields creativity to excel at research, innovative solutions and entrepreneurship are essential requirements. To achieve this, we need highly specialized professionals, with no desire to conform:  people who are highly trained in technology and have the skills to analyze the big picture and assimilate changes and trends quickly in order to contribute new solutions.

These professionals are trained in universities.  In Catalonia, 18% of the new EHEA (European Higher Education Area) degrees are in science, health sciences and engineering. The EHEA, created from the Bologna Declaration (1999), focuses on establishing a comparable degree structure for all countries in the European Community, which in the long term would foster economic and social growth. However, the industrial sector commonly complains that the education students receive doesn’t meet company needs, as it is simply a transfer of knowledge based on purely academic research, doesn’t encompass many other areas where professional are much in demand and, above all, lacks focus on the skills young people need in order to avoid becoming permanent students and graduate as professionals.

Including internships in these degrees is one of the measures universities have incorporated in their degree requirements to try to mitigate this situation and foster the development of skills, but these internships often take place at the university itself. Few internships are actually done in companies, mainly in research departments, and those in management positions are nearly unheard of.

On the other hand, start-ups in the sector, mainly created over the past six years, are made up of teams of scientists who often lack skills in management, business development and regulatory and intellectual property strategies, as these topics aren’t covered in their studies nor are they contemplated in the development of a scientific career. These skills are found in pharmaceutical companies, an area in which professionals are often more mobile, accepting positions in young start-ups as a challenge and as a way to advance their career. This dynamic, which is still nearly non-existent in Catalonia, makes it necessary to create meeting points to foster professional mobility.

In order to meet these challenges the sector faces, Biocat has worked on a variety of initiatives over the past year, which we present today in a new section of our website dedicated to professionals in the sector: the Jobs and Internships Listing. This section covers everything from the first steps a new professional takes through definitions of the professional profiles required and closes the circle with a job listing section –this part was already available on the Biocat site- which currently receives more than 5,000 visits per month and has become the benchmark job listing for the sector.

First of all, and in collaboration with the Porta 22 initiative (Barcelona Activa), we have drawn up 57 job descriptions in the biotechnology and biomedicine sector, checked with senior members of the sector, which include a description of the functions, training and skills required in addition to a report on employment trends. All of this is available with a simple click on the Biocat website. Our aim is to provide young people and professionals that want to reorient their career with a global vision of the new opportunities available.
The second initiative deals with student internships in companies. Biocat has structured this project in three phases. The most immediate is facilitating contact between universities and companies that want to take on interns. This is the section of the website that we are presenting today: the list of coordinators and the type of internships each university requires in order to give companies better access to students. In the middle term, we expect to complement this section with a listing of CVs from students that are willing to contribute their knowledge and enthusiasm to the industrial sector.

And in the long term, we want to take advantage of the fact that most universities are revising their internship systems to promote dialog between business representatives and internship coordinators at the universities, who have shown themselves to be quite open to the idea on our first contact with them. Our priority is to make these internships as beneficial as possible for future professionals, increasing the number that are done in businesses and letting potential interns know that management positions are an interesting alternative. Companies now have the opportunity and responsibility to contribute to training future professionals in skills that meet the industry’s needs and cannot leave all the responsibility solely to universities. Over this year, we ask that you help us make this project for the future a reality.

Through this Job and Internship Listing we aim to increase professional mobility and attraction and complement other activities organized by Biocat (technical symposiums, Biocàpsules training program, the Forum, etc.) and by other organizations in the sector.

Therefore, we encourage all of you to use it. Your suggestions regarding improvements are welcome (

What I still wonder is if it was irony on behalf of the editor or just coincidence that the two articles were published on the same page…


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