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Bio sector demands research management and support professionals

The most highly valued skills are hybrid profiles (scientific and complementary training), with international experience and internal and external communication skills.

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By Biocat

The BioRegion of Catalonia is full of professional opportunities beyond the academic arena, as the more than 500 companies, hospitals, research centers and large-scale facilities in the sector need innovation-management and research-support profiles. This is one of the key messages transmitted by Dr. Àlex Casta, Biocat head of Technology Transfer and Innovation, to the more than 80 bioscience students and postdocs at yesterday’s workshop on professional perspectives organized by Biocat and the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB).

Careers in the biomedical sector are highly flexible: graduates can move into this industry via many pathways and at different moments, and afterwards professional development options are "practically infinite", explains Casta. Biomedicine as a science and a sector is intrinsically international, so the job market is the world, "an inevitable topic that must always be taken into account".

The most highly valued skills today are hybrid profiles (scientific and complementary training, ranging from management to engineering, business, finance, legal/patents, physics, and statistics, among others), with international experience and the ability to communicate both inside and out of the organization.

One of the speakers at this event, Marta Cortijo, biochemist and Technology Transfer Manager at the UAB Research Park recommends bioscience students moving into the job market to "think about the profile they most identify with depending on their skills and competences and to consider everything in the bio sector: researcher, project manager, scientific communication officer, medical advisor, analyst or teacher, among others". Based on her own experience, Cortijo recognizes that "a dissertation gives you highly valuable scientific knowledge, but not the skills and competences associated with project management, like planning, coordination, customer service and strategic vision, which are extremely necessary".

Biotechnologist Georgina Sorrosal, who graduated in 2005 and is now a project manager at Advancell, believes it helpful "to be proactive by going to conferences in order to meet people who head up companies in the sector and to use professional social media". It is also important to be optimistic "despite the current situation because there are many professional opportunities associated with the biosciences beyond research that aren’t explained in universities".

Maria Ortega, who received a degree in biotechnology from the UAB in 2007 and works as a consultant for international project management (previously with Trifermed Group and Almirall) believes that when you join the job market “it can be difficult to find what we want to do on the first try, so choosing a highly specialized path from early on can lead us to get stuck and miss out on opportunities. Sometimes it is better to try things out, after analyzing the possibilities in each case, and train day to day once we’ve found something we like.”

Biocat provides companies and professionals with an online jobs and internships listing. In 2012, it was the most-visited section of the website, receiving nearly 207,000 visits in total, 11% more than the previous year.

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Biocat’s Alex Casta at the conference in the Biosciences Faculty auditorium - Photo: © UAB.

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