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Course hosted by the Copenhagen Business School is successfully teaching business skills to scientists
New courses are turning scientists into businesspeople. Time in the research laboratory is being supplemented with business meetings and a new breed of business-savvy students with science a background are being spawned, promising to offer more value to potential employers.
One of the courses is offered through the Biobusiness and Innovation platform (BBIP), a cross-university partnership based at the Copenhagen Business School (CBS). Students spend their time studying with university partners such as the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) and DTU, while attending business lectures by top management from the Danish healthcare industry and faculty from CBS.
Thomas Gundelund Rasmussen is a Senior Manager at the Danish food and nutrition giant Chr Hansen and one of the co-founders of BBIP.
“The attraction of talented individuals who are also experts in turning science into value is a no brainer. They increase the value of any research and development investment. The right question is probably why this hasn’t been focused on before,” he says.
As a former jury member of the popular Venture Cup competition, he is well aware of the diverse set of skills required to stand out and perform in a competitive business environment.
“Bringing science and business education together into the university classrooms successfully is a concept still new and challenging,” Thomas Gundelund Rasmussen says.
The close involvement of businesses invested into the program through lectures, projects and internships is designed to expose them to the next generation of business savvy scientific innovators as much as exposing the students to their potential employers.
Anita Ripplinger is from Germany and is currently working on her PhD at the Novo Nordisk Centre for Protein Research (CPR) at the University of Copenhagen. She spent four months as part of the CBS-BBIP PhD course collaborating with business students to develop a business plan for an emerging innovation within a real life Danish start-up as part of her degree.
“I took the course to understand how science becomes a business that transforms lives. My PhD supervisor supported my interest with an agreement that I didn’t compromise my research. So, my days started earlier in the lab and ended with preparation for the weekly business lectures and project meetings with business colleagues. I have learned valuable knowledge in IPR, marketing, valuation and finance delivered through industry experts which also meant I expanded my professional network significantly,” she concludes.
Anita Ripplinger: “A fresh perspective on our business problem”
She is effusive in her praise of fellow team members.
“I gained so much energy from working with students of different study programs. They brought a fresh perspective on our business problem. While I brought scientific experience to the table, I learnt much more on other areas from my colleagues.
Anita is now back in the laboratory focusing on her PhD research, but is happy for the business experience: “It’s important that I keep in touch with this group of people,” she says,
Peter Thrane is currently the Head of sales and marketing at Visiana Aps. He graduated with a double degree – a Masters in Molecular Biomedicine program at UCPH as well as a Masters in bio-entrepreneurship from the BBIP platform.
“My interest in biotech started early as I took up a student job at a small Danish biotech firm. Later, while on exchange in Canada I took courses with a heavy bio business leaning. As I felt at home within the applied biotech domain, I joined the BBIP program after graduating from UCPH. It gave me the exact kind of business skill set that complemented my scientific background.”
The programme stands out for him, also because of the little details and prejudices of academics.
“Coming from the scientific discipline, most students initially try to grapple with a formal wardrobe and rack their brains figuring out how to dress up for class. But as the intensity of coursework hits you, you learn the serious academic side of a business school that is competitive and internationalized in every sense. It’s a very different kind of bubble to life at the University of Copenhagen,” he says.
“The dual degree definitely expanded my career options through increased skills, awareness, qualification and networking. Suddenly, the jobs where I thought I would require a PhD turned out to be within my reach with my science/business background. Now I use as much of my scientific training as of the business education in fulfilling my professional duties.”
Alexandra Kampmann is a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in Copenhagen.
We are moving towards a data-driven world, she explains. This means that businesses have to adapt to technology acceleration and acquire talent who can facilitate this merger using technical knowledge and sound business sense. It is logical that universities are attentive to such needs and opening up opportunities to perform cross-topic courses.
She offers the following advice to job candidates: The industry has become data heavy so good scientists who understand business are in high demand. But consider that there is an increasing number of graduates without the same degree of available jobs. So its important to sell yourself, she says, and understand your niche within a chosen industry.
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