Formation of Managers of Biotechnology Companies: A “Presentual” (Presential and Virtual) Environment for Learning

Formation of Managers of Biotechnology Companies: A “Presentual” (Presential and Virtual) Environment for Learning

María José Peset Gonzalez (Department of Business Economics, University Carlos III, Getafe, Spain) and César Ullastres García (Department of Business Innovation, EOI Business School, Madrid, Spain)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/jcit.2014100102

Abstract

This teaching system was built on materials prepared by experts in biotechnology and management with the contribution of the students themselves, engendered by their discussions about real life based business situations. This system is fully supported by the resources available within the Moodle platform, especially the adaptability of content depending on the profile of the students. But this system goes beyond this. It promotes constant teacher-student and student-student interaction; it achieves this by using all the possibilities offered by the network, by using an approach that stimulates participation in different forums and recommends a series of scheduled tasks based upon the company they work for. The goal of this system is to organize and take advantage of all the available knowledge, and especially that which the students themselves build in each edition, so that the following edition participants can profit from it.
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1. Introduction

The Foundation for the development of research in genomics and proteomics in Spain, “Genoma España”, (2001-2013) had among its main goals the promotion of the biotechnology industry. To achieve this, it launched a program to create biotechnology-based companies. The results were extraordinary. In twelve years the number of biotechnology-based companies grew by 459%, as outlined in the ICONO - FECYT report of Indicators of the Science, Technology and Innovation (ICONO-FECYT, 2013) that uses the data from the “Relevance of Biotechnology in Spain 2011” report (Genoma España, 2011). According to data from the European employers association in 2013, the Spanish biotech industry reached eighth place in the Western world. This was truly a “prodigious decade” (J. Barrero, 2013) in which companies, defined as financial instruments that show whether ideas work or not, have consolidated an internationally competitive biotechnology industry in Spain.

However, something was missing. Its promoters, mostly scientists with a very specialized knowledge in one of the technologies - some of them more than a century old - that contribute to biotechnology (Muñoz, E., 1998), lacked a general knowledge in business management. Some of these technologies are biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, genetics, cell therapy, the neurosciences, and productive connections between these disciplines and physical and chemical techniques and technologies: X -ray spectroscopy (crystallography), nuclear magnetic resonance, fluorescence, photonics, and those derived from computational analysis that in the end integrates them into complex fields such as genomics and proteomics, systemic and synthetic biology, bioengineering applied to medicine, nutrition science and countless industrial processes. This lack of business skills was identified as a problem in their relationship with investors, who are necessary agents to the consolidation of their businesses. This is precisely why Genoma España launched an ambitious training project to teach management techniques to biotech executives that ought to be capable to teach its participants the necessary skills for dealing with the venture capital professionals.

Now we will present and describe this experience, in the following order: the designing of the educational process, and then the evaluation of the results obtained in the nine editions of this project. This will be done by dividing this article in three parts the first being the characteristics of the course and its pedagogical context. Then, the different learning strategies used will be explained, together with the results of the educational evaluation about the learning process.

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