The course is annually organized by SPARK Global Translational Research Network and led by Professor Michael Wallach (University of Technology, Sydney), Professor Daria Mochly-Rosen, and Professor Kevin Grimes (Stanford School of Medicine), Pasi Sorvisto (director of SPARK Finland).
The goal is to provide an understanding of how biotechnology projects & companies are created, established, managed, and funded in order to develop the students' creative, innovative and entrepreneurial skills.
This is taught through lectures, group work, and presentations. During the course, student groups develop a new project/product, which they pitch to potentially interested parties. This can potentially lead to the formation of real start-up companies that can arise from this course.
What key competencies have you gained throughout the course?
One of the critical competencies I learned was approaching a project from a potential IP (intellectual property) perspective. Also, I discovered more about how to prepare market analysis, search for competitors, estimate market size and predict potential growth. Finally, I developed further networking and pitching skills.
Will these skills be useful for your Ph.D. training/future career/ research project? How will you apply them?
I think understanding IP is essential for many research projects. It helps to understand how novel our work is. I think this kind of approach is very beneficial for any Ph.D. because it ultimately puts our research work into a realistic context of potential clinical translation rather than just academic curiosity. Also, networking and pitching skills are fundamental in any area of work, more so in research, since we are so dependent on good partnerships. Any opportunity to practice, particularly outside your comfort zone, is of great value.
Would you recommend the course to a friend/colleague? Why? Please highlight key added values of the course from your point of view.
Yes, for sure, I can recommend the workshop to anyone interested in learning how their research project might lead to a patent or even a start-up company establishment. The course is very intense, and the mentors are open-minded, helpful, and experienced people. The "work" environment is very constructive, and both the mentors and the teams are composed of people from different countries, different fields and with different levels of experience in the biotech area. This multinational and multidisciplinary aspect leads to fruitful discussions and innovative approaches. The course can be overwhelming for someone not so familiar with how the biotech field works. However, this course can provide a significant boost for someone aware of the basics of technology transfer.
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