Career in Regenerative Medicine industry – how to start

by Alexey Bersenev on September 28, 2008 · 10 comments

in business, career

If you already decided to go to RegenMed (Regenerative Medicine) industry but didn’t get in to yet, you should probably read this post. I’m not an expert in industry, but I’d like to share some links to resources and offer my opinion.

First of all I’d like to separate BigPharma from Biotech and from RegenMed industry, because it’s different. RegenMed and cell therapy is relatively a new field of global Health Care industry and more close to clinic, because it operates with human material (cells, tissues) for transplantation.

Ok, If you decide to get a position in one of existing companies and you don’t know anyone from them yet (networking = 0), let’s start from:

1. Job fairs
Here, I’d advise you to dig all of job fairs in top conferences of the field (such as: International Society for Stem Cell Research or International Society for Cell Therapy, World Congress on Regenerative Medicine annual meetings)

If there is no job fair, go to companies exhibition and talk to representatives, leave them your contact or CV

I wouldn’t go to job fairs in universities, because they are completely occupied by BigPharma & Biotech (they really suck academic nerd’s brains!). RegenMed companies still not that big and not many of them will be at usual job fairs in your campus.

2. Apply to companies directly

A lot of very useful tips you can find in
RegenMed Career Center, made by Jon Rowley – author of Regeneration Station blog.
Especially i like:
The Regenerative Medicine Industry Job Search – Resources and Advice
and
The Job Search: Large vs. Small Companies – pros and cons

I’d like to notice that recently some BigPharma companies showed a great interest to invest in RegenMed. Here are some fresh examples:

Pfizer embraces stem cells

Big pharma’s interest in stem cell research is picking up speed. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is expanding its research into the technology and plans to open a second regenerative medicine unit in Cambridge, UK, this November

GlaxoSmithKline and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute announce a unique collaboration to enable the discovery of new medicines

3. If you have an idea for your company related to regenerative medicine, how to propose it and start up a company?

There are two scenarios. First, if you are an inventor of a technology in regenerative medicine based in academia, and you want to launch a business with this technology, it is best to contact center of technology transfer (CTT) in your campus (e.g. CTT at UPenn) first. Then discuss with people from there whether your technology is patentable, and your university is willing to pay for patent application. Since your technology is from academia, you will have to share intellectual property with your university anyway (for most of the cases). If you are successful in at least submitting a patent, you are on the right track – just go ahead and form a business team if you want (or if you want to do this alone, that’s fine too, just make sure you have a very good personal advisory board).

Second, if you don’t have your own idea, again, contact CTT in your campus to ask for a patent portfolio – this lists technologies from academia that have been patented. Then, if you find an interesting technology, and then have an idea how to use this technology to benefit something, contact the inventor directly. If you manage to negotiate a deal with the inventor to form a partnership for business (obviously, you will have to have a good credential to convince the inventor that you can make a good business out of this technology), then this becomes a business team.

After you have an access to intellectual property and form a business team, look for business plan competition opportunities if you are at the campus (e.g. Wharton business plan competition). You can participate any business competition in any campus if you form a business team with a person from that academic institution. If you become a finalist in this process, you will have a good chance to form a connection with investors and this will be a basis for your seed money. Otherwise, you will get a good feedback anyway about your business, so I encourage you to participate in this.

Otherwise, try to hook up with angel investors from various conferences (business, technology conferences), pitch your idea and see if they are interested to fund you. This is where you will have to spend a lot of time (refer to the next section).

Some other ways to pursue your business idea is to propose it to other existing companies through networking and if they like it, they will give you a position.

If you have some money+idea and decide to go to RegenMed field without knowledge- ask professionals in Cell Therapy Business Consultinghow much you can lose/ how much you can earn.

Also a couple of good books we would recommend are:
For people in campus: Campus CEO: The Student Entrepreneur’s Guide to Launching a Multi-Million-Dollar Business by Randall Pinket
and
Some realities about biotech/pharma/healthcare industry: Science Business: The Promise, the Reality, and the Future of Biotech by Gary Pisano

4. If you have a startup company, how to ask for investment?

don’t hesitate and ask!
A prepare your pitch and ask venture capitalist to invest in your company

Recent news indicated a great interest of VC to RegenMed business:

New VC fund aims for dozen stem cell firms:

A $225 million venture fund – the first exclusively aimed at emerging stem cell companies – looks to line up its lead investors by the end of the year, possibly by the end of September.

Proteus Venture Partners plans to invest in 10 to 15 so-called regenerative medicine companies at $10 million to $20 million per investment, said Jeffrey Karan, senior partner with the Palo Alto firm.

find some new opportunities for RegenMed companies:

last news from CIRM (via Nature news):

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) is launching a loan programme that aims to help private biotechnology companies while providing a funding stream for the institute. The programme is expected to be approved this week by the board that oversees CIRM, although major specifics are still undecided, including the amount of money involved.

Two types of loan will be awarded — recourse loans, which must be paid back, and non-recourse loans, which do not have to be paid back if a product’s development ends. CIRM is guaranteed a stake in the recipient company worth 10% of the loan’s value for a recourse loan, or 100% for a non-recourse loan.

So, you have many possibilities and options to get involved in RegenMed business…
Try it and good luck!

*************
special thanks to Jae-Won Shin for his input in section #3
picture credit

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Denis September 29, 2008 at 12:56 pm

nice elevator speech 😉

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Vladim September 30, 2008 at 9:32 am

I have passed 2 rounds of interviews in Pfizer`s Regenerative Medicine department in Cambrige,UK one month ago but ultemately did not get the job there. pitty.

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Alex September 30, 2008 at 1:22 pm

keep trying Vladim, field is so big now, you will get in

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Lee Buckler October 6, 2008 at 3:36 pm

Good post, Alex. I’d also suggest monitoring Cell Therapy News (www.celltherapynews.com) not only for the job postings there but to learn as much as possible about the field and discover who’s moving and shaking. Not only might it lead to learning about a company that may be hiring but it will also provide valuable tidbits to drop during an interview that will help demonstrate a knowledge of the industry.

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Lei November 11, 2008 at 8:58 pm

Very informative post.
If there is some qualified and reliable cell processing companies, you just need an idea to start your own bussiness. Like we don’t usually buy sequencing machine for our own DNA sequencing, we just send out samples and get results back.
To start a cell “OEM” company is more promising to me than just bet on one idea.

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Alex November 12, 2008 at 2:20 pm

Lei – yes idea and the technology is the first that you should start from,
also you should realize is your own business really that you need and will you able to do it? Or you just want to join company and be part of the team

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chris January 7, 2009 at 6:12 am

I am a recent college graduate and my goal is to work in the field of RegenMed. I’m looking at graduate school and wondering if I would be better prepared for a career in RegenMed if I enrolled in a molecular and cellular biology PhD program or a biomedical engineering program? Any advice would be appreciated.

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JWS January 8, 2009 at 8:08 pm

Chris – if you are interested in learning to know how to do ‘good science’ – meaning a hypothesis-driven science that can be replicated by others – biomedical PhD program may be a good fit. If you are more interested in creating systems that take advantage of biology rather than understanding biology itself, maybe biomedical engineering could be good for you. However, both are not mutually exclusive to each other and to me, either way, it depends on how you do in the program and your career.

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Ron July 30, 2009 at 11:31 pm

hi, i have a question.
Must I learn cell and systems biology first in order to study regenerative medicine? sorry, i’m changing my field in university from finances to science, so i’m really clueless.

i asked for a regenmed program at univ of toronto, and they recommended i study cell and systems biology first. I don’t know if that’s a ‘waste’ of time per say because I want to go straight into regenerative medicine. if you can refer me to a university with undergraduate programs in regenmed, and what it takes to go in there, i’d appreciate it. thanks.

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Alex August 5, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Ron,
I think you should read cell biology books for introduction to the field, because the field is everything about human cell biology. Also I’d recommend to read some stem cell textbook (there are many). Not sure a about system biology.
Unfortunately I don’t know undergraduate programs at universities, you have to look for it.

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