‘Community of biotech entrepreneurs’ set up by ARU and Start Codon

Start Codon and Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) are collaborating to enable students – from undergraduates to PhDs – to gain biotech industry experience while studying.

Start Codon has already completed a pilot programme with ARU students who are already benefitting from the opportunities. Support includes lectures, mentoring, and volunteering and internship opportunities.

Jason Mellad, CEO at life sciences accelerator Start Codon, said of the initiative’s origins:

Our programme and partnerships manager, Silvia Baudone, is an ARU alumn and has always extolled the virtues of their students and educational programme.

“Given how incredibly capable and hard-working Silvia is, we were keen to engage with Nick and his colleagues to explore ways that we could work together and help form a bridge between Cambridge’s two innovative universities and the broader biotech start-up community.

We aim to promote all aspects of entrepreneurship in ARU’s students, ranging from the power skills of leadership, team building and self-awareness, to technical skills such as intellectual property strategy, business planning, and operations.

“Seminars and lectures will be delivered by members of the Start Codon team and our broader network of expert mentors. We have two tiers of support – students working directly with the Start Codon management team and those who are volunteering with our portfolio companies. In both cases, we’re working with Nick to identify young people with high potential and ambition, however many there are, and helping them gain experience.”

Dr Nick Pugh, deputy head of the School of Life Sciences at ARU, added: “Initially this has centred on our MSc Applied Bioscience and third year BSc Hons biomedical science students, as they already have the necessary skills and experience to take up laboratory placements.

“However, the scheme is open to all ARU students and we have identified exciting opportunities within Start Codon companies for students from a range of courses, including business, law, and accounting and finance.”

Daniela Valencia was one of the first students to engage with the scheme.

Nick said: “Daniela was one of the first students to engage with the scheme. She was placed with Start Codon, and has also competed an internship at Enhance3DGenomics. The Start Codon portfolio companies benefit by being able to take on skilled students to help them achieve specific goals while, at the same time, the placements provide our students with invaluable experience. They gain first-hand knowledge of what working in a biotech company is all about and they are also a brilliant addition to their CVs, helping them really stand out when they start applying for jobs after graduation.”

Daniela’s experience of the programme was very positive.

“While finishing my degree at ARU, I was seeking to gain hands-on experience in the biotech industry,” she said. “I was very happy to hear about the Start Codon volunteering programme, it was just what I had been looking for – an opportunity to learn how ground-breaking ideas become successful companies.

“Working with the team at Start Codon has been incredibly rewarding. From the start, I was provided with guidance and genuine feedback. This allowed me to learn quickly and adapt to a working environment. Throughout my time with them, I was able to gain valuable skills which complemented the formation I received at ARU. I sincerely recommend the programme to anyone looking to expand their horizons regarding their career. There is plenty to explore as a soon-to-be graduate and this programme is an excellent way to get started.”

Silvia Baudone, programme and partnerships manager at Start Codon, concludes: “We strongly believe that fostering young minds in their early steps is key. Partnering with ARU has given us the opportunity to shape enthusiastic and high skilled students and to prepare them for their career path ahead, both as entrepreneurs, as life sciences experts and scientists.

“We look forward to continuing this great project and to allow great minds to discover all the different career paths ahead of them.”