UK Biotech world

In Cambridge, anyone will point you to Eagle pub. Reason: It was in this pub that on 28th Feb 1953 one of the greatest discoveries was announced. Crick and Watson declared that they had discovered “the secret of life”. They were talking about the structure of DNA. It revolutionized biology.

I know about this piece of information because I visited the city of Cambridge to inspire me and to find out a little bit more about the subjects that I am passionate about. It does help the date of the announcement of the structure of DNA coincides with my birth date.

It doesn’t stop there. In 1997, Dolly, the sheep, was born as a result of the first mammal clone using an adult cell. In 2003, the human Genome project was completed! As of 2010, there are ~500 dedicated biotech businesses with over $ 10 billion revenue. UK has developed nearly a quarter of the top 100 medicines being utilized now.

So, what really is the relationship between India and UK in the biosciences sector?

To answer that, it is a growing relationship. India and UK are both strong in biosciences. The British market is very ‘friendly’ for the Indian investors. (Recently, many companies like Avesthagen, Ocimum biosolutions, Ranbaxy, Shasun Chemicals and drugs etc have established their offices in UK). In Britain, it is easy for a scientist to translate scientific research into a commercialized business as compared to India. There is one business spin off for every 27 million pounds worth of research on an average in UK.

India now has a good intellectual property law coupled with great skills in the clinical trials sector. We still lack good R&D facilities. We need to start working on being more practical when training our students. But, for that there are numerous obstacles which I am not going to deal with in this blog. Just so you know, it is important to be a “Lab ready” candidate when you are searching for a job.

Since I did my degree in Scotland, I can tell you a little bit about the way things go on in that part of the country.

When I selected Scotland as my study destination, I had read several articles from genuine sources which provided statistics and such which convinced me that Scotland region is indeed a genuine centre of excellence. The birth of Dolly, in fact was in Edinburgh, Scotland. I had the opportunity to do part of my degree in University of Aberdeen and the rest from the University of Edinburgh. Both the Universities provided me every facility that I would need to complete my master’s degree successfully (Which I utilized to the best of my abilities).

I have done a very crude pie chart to explain how the life science organization is divided in Scotland. Recently, a company called Haptogen (Opened by one of my course coordinators at University of Aberdeen) was taken over by another company called Wyeth. Wyeth was later bought by Astra Zeneca for multimillion pound upfront money. These kinds of major moves by pharmaceutical giants have brought small companies like Haptogen on the map of biotech world.

Now that you have understood how UK biotech world is growing at an ever increasing world, what you should do to get into it and be a part of the system?

For one, you should be sure of what you want to do. If it is research, then try to get atleast a PhD in your relevant field. Highly educated candidates are always respected all over UK and the world. If you can get some experience working in your field, then that would be good for you. I personally feel, there is no substitute for good experience.

I hope I have explained how the biotech world is divided in UK and what they expect out of you. If you still have queries, I will be glad to answer them. Remember, hard work definitely pays off, but it is also important to do some smart work and look out for opportunities.


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