Students Work with Life Sciences Technology Companies in “Bench to Bedside” Course

in Health Sector, SMG Hot Topics, Students
October 27th, 2010

The “Bench to Bedside” Course

As the bio-pharma industry shifts from simply producing drugs for prescription to using monitoring devices and sophisticated diagnostics, many new technologies are being hatched in research incubators across the nation. These ideas lead to promising early stage companies. As these companies pursue the path toward funding and ultimately production, they must overcome many hurdles and achieve many milestones.

Turning Challenges Faced by Early Stage Companies into Learning Experiences

The course fosters rich interaction between students and the founders and leaders of these early stage companies.

“Bench to Bedside” is a Boston University Health Sector Management Program course created by professor Ashley Stevens. The class takes the challenges faced by these early stage companies and transforms them into rich learning experiences for students.

This year, Boston University is thrilled to have Professor Rana Gupta join the faculty to teach this course as an executive in residence. Professor Gupta has proven business roots in the bio-pharmaceutical and devices industry. As the CEO of HistorX, he brings his expertise in building, managing, and growing a successful company. For this course, he has gathered a diverse array of early stage life sciences companies that have developed new technologies and are ready to move to the next step. “Live” projects are assigned to the students, giving them the chance to apply their learning in a real business setting.

“The goal of this class is for students to be able to say, with their heads held high and proud, that they have actually helped develop a solid strategy for an early stage company.” –Professor Rana Gupta

The course fosters rich interaction between students and the founders and leaders of these early stage companies; students directly consult with them on the challenges these fledgling organizations face. “Bench to Bedside” provides a highly challenging but stimulating real world environment, linking deliverables to the actual decisions that the companies make.

Throughout the course, students must perform technology assessment, determine the value of the technology, and judge the size of the potential market. They learn how to make a strong business case as they touch on topics such as growth strategy, financing options, competitive analysis, and commercialization strategy. They make recommendations to the firm on the nature of the venture, how to leverage their intellectual property position, and how to market to their customer base.  “The goal of this class is for students to be able to say, with their heads held high and proud, that they have actually helped develop a solid strategy for an early stage company,” said professor Gupta. “The students’ work during the semester will provide high value to the companies.”

Synthesizing the Strengths of Each Team Member’s Different Background

MBA students, medical students, law students, and biomedical engineers all work together in interdisciplinary teams.

The student profile of this course is a testament to the diversity that the current bio-pharma industry boasts. MBA students, medical students, law students, and biomedical engineers all work together in interdisciplinary teams, synthesizing the strengths of each team member’s different background. “Bench to Bedside” is truly unique because it creates teams mirroring the cross-section of individuals with whom these students would actually collaborate when starting an organization.  The course’s ultimate purpose: to provide students the real-world skills they will need to become tomorrow’s entrepreneurial-minded leaders of the bio-pharma and device industries.