Biotech learning takes more than books, computers, classrooms and even teachers. To really know how to do something in the field of biotechnology, you need to have a chance to DO it. The AC2 Bio-Link Regional Center and the Bio-Link National Center know this, and have, over the years, worked hard to support opportunities for students to have real world, hands on experiences. In 2012, Bio-Link National Center sponsored a CSO Summit. In 2017, the AC2 Bio-Link Regional Center and the Bio-Link National Center co-sponsored a CSO Summit. The 2017 meeting brought together innovative faculty from across the nation who are involved with either incubators, contract service organizations (CSOs), or both. CSOs are a type of organization, like a small business, where students provide services to academic labs or companies involving research, testing, quality control, or small-scale manufacturing. Some colleges also operate incubators that house companies at reduced rates in exchange for teaching or providing work opportunities for students.
The resources from the summit are very useful if you want to learn about real world biotechnology, or want to provide real work experience to students.
The first publication from the summit is the CSO Summit 2.0 Report, available on the Bio-Link website. The report summarizes the findings of the summit, and in particular discusses both the challenges of establishing CSOs and incubators, as well as various models that could be used to set up new incubators or CSOs.
The second document is a facilities and resource description from Austin Community College’s Bioscience Incubator Program (ABI). It can give you an idea of the resources that might be needed to set up your own organization and how to describe them to potential funders and clients.
The third and fourth documents are wonderfully detailed resources from InnovaBio. The InnovaBio™ Contract Research Organization (CRO) is an innovative partnership of corporations and educators at Salt Lake Community College working to support Utah's biotechnology industry. They offer a low risk environment for organizations wishing to develop a product or wanting to explore new ideas using the state of the art biotechnology lab, qualified scientists, and student interns. The challenging research completed by the program’s interns creates a valuable talent pool for Utah biotechnology companies. InnovaBio has shared both a template contract used between the CRO and its clients, and a training packet with details about the interns’ assignments.
And finally the fifth document is a collection of the slides from the “CROs and Incubators at Educational Institutions” webinar on January 27, 2017. Lots of ideas about what is already being done, and what educators in the field are thinking about--listen in and pick their brains!
When you put all this information together you can get a good idea of what can be done to get that crucial "real world" experience for students. Take a look and see the possibilities!