Blog Archives

How Can Industry & Academia Fill Middle-Skills Jobs?

To probe the issues behind the middle-skills gap, Accenture, Burning Glass Technologies and Harvard Business School (HBS) launched a collaborative research partnership in 2013 under the umbrella of HBS’ U.S. Competitiveness Project. The various research studies and analyses of this project are being driven by the principle that the “United States is a competitive location to the extent that companies operating in the U.S. are able to compete successfully in the global economy while supporting high and rising living standards for the average American.”

View full report here.

Much has been written about the shortfall in high-end skills, particularly in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Less attention has been paid to so-called “middle-skills” jobs—those that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree. How can industry help lower the number of STEM “middle-skill” jobs being left unfilled?

It is crucial for academia to create opportunities for students to experience internships and work-simulations in order to fully understand and prepare for these middle-skills jobs that they are studying to fill. Ten community colleges were recognized yesterday by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Education Consortium for having associate degree and certificate programs that give students a work opportunity. This event was held at Shire in Lexington, Massachusetts. View the online album here.



A lack of communication between academia and industry is causing a big problem in filling these jobs. One-third of HR executives in the Accenture survey noted that while they could find skilled workers, many candidates lacked foundational skills such as an understanding of what makes an effective and reliable employee.
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Wishing You a Happy Thanksgiving

The MassBio & MassBioEd teams have plenty to give thanks for this holiday season.

We are thankful for a dynamic, inspiring community of scientists, life sciences leaders, policy leaders, and patient advocates. We are thankful for the work you do each day to ensure our family and friends can lead fuller, healthier lives.

We are thankful for your support of our initiatives as we strive to enhance the life sciences super-cluster so it continues to be an ecosystem that allows and encourages the the development of critical new science, technology and medicines that benefit people worldwide.

We are also thankful for your support of the MassBioEd Foundation and like-minded organizations committed to enhancing science and biotechnology education in Massachusetts and developing the life sciences workforce of the future.

We wish you and your families a happy, healthy Thanksgiving holiday!

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Join the Conversation: Biotech 101 for Non-Scientists

allie4By Allie Rocovich, Communications Assistant at MassBio/MassBioEd. View her LinkedIn page here.

What’s more intimidating than entering a conversation with people that are talking about something you know nothing about? I can’t think of anything. And our career is the biggest ‘conversation’ we are going to take part in throughout our lives. So why not be ready, know the jargon, and be able to take part like we all want to, for the sake of our self-esteem, knowledge, and overall career satisfaction?

It’s scary, entering a new job, especially if you’re making a career move into an industry you aren’t schooled in. Biotech is hard. Not only is the actual content – the science – difficult, but there are so many stakeholders in the industry that knowing the science isn’t even all there is to it. That’s where we, the finance, business, marketing, operations, economics, communications, policy, government, management, IT, sales, public relations and human resources professionals find ourselves useful, but we’re hesitant. We want in on the conversation, but don’t speak the language.

Biotech 101 is our in. It’s the dictionary, the introductory biology class we never took, the shameless question-and-answer. Not to mention it’s totally up-to-date, and there are ALWAYS new things happening in the life sciences, it’s the nature of the industry. So when I, a Communications Assistant at MassBio, took Biotech 101, I got to learn about the latest topic in and outside of the office: Ebola.

Biotech 101 is designed to accommodate open discussion and questions, and because most of the people gathered for Biotech 101 were heavily social and relationship-driven professionals, there was great discussion. This helped break down the conversation barrier that a lack of science background can create in the lab, office, or wherever you spend your 9-5. It’s comfortable. Donald Kirsch, bio/pharmaceutical industry consultant and Harvard Extension School professor, lectured us while prompting us with questions that related directly to our respective roles. We got our questions answered (finally!).

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Top 5 News 11/1/14 – 11/7/14

Top 5 logo1) With change of governors, a shift in approach to the economyBoston Globe, November 7, 2014
The election of Charlie Baker probably means a shift in the state’s approach to the economy after eight years with a governor who viewed and used government as a catalyst for economic growth. Baker is likely to return to the philosophy and policies of his Republican predecessors, who believed that the best way for government to boost jobs and the economy is to largely get out of the way. That approach is in sharp contrast to that of Governor Deval Patrick, who targeted industries that his administration viewed as promising, such as biotechnology and clean energy, and supported them with taxpayer money and other initiatives. Link

2) Boston Children’s “Innovation Tank” yields two first-place winners, Boston Business Journal, November 2, 2014
Multimillionaire and entrepreneur Daymond John sat listening to innovators making impassioned pleas about their products, asking them questions about sales data and evidence of proof of concept.Yet instead of a panel with four other millionaires, he sat with Boston innovators and venture capitalists, and instead of being hosted by ABC, the event was held by the Boston Children’s Hospital Global Pediatric Innovation Summit. Link

3) Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY) Strikes Deal Worth $444 Million With Galecto BiotechBioSpace, November 3, 2014
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY) will acquire Danish firm Galecto Biotech for $444 million in a bid to gain worldwide rights to its lead asset, pulmonary fibrosis drug TD139, the two companies said in a statement Monday. The new deal will consist of total aggregate payments which have the potential to reach $444 million, including an option fee, an option exercise fee and built-in clinical and regulatory milestone payments. Link

4) Karyopharm settles into new home, gears up for biggest drug trial yetBoston Business Journal, November 4, 2014
Since moving to its new, larger headquarters in Newton this summer, Karyopharm Therapeutics has been readying for its largest-ever clinical trial involving blood-cancer patients. And next month, investors will get a preview of the results from an earlier trial. Link

5) New Massachusetts Life Sciences Center grant program to fund milestone achievement by early-stage companiesMassBio, November 7, 2014
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) announced the launch of a new grant program today at MassMEDIC’s MedTech Showcase.  The Life Sciences Milestone Achievement Program (MAP) will award early-stage life sciences companies in Massachusetts with funding necessary to perform and complete essential value-creating milestones. Link

How You Can Get Involved in Bringing STEM to Students – Guest Post by Tracy Callahan

By Tracy Callahan, Ph.D.

Tracy_Callahan_MassBioHQWith the start of the new school year, many of you may think back to a teacher or experience in school that piqued your interest in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM). Such moments are needed now, more than ever, to ensure we have an innovative and STEM-literate future workforce. My experiences working with students have shown that interacting directly with professionals can have a deep impact on students’ interests. Interacting with STEM professionals makes these fields more real and tangible for students. You can help create these moments in our communities by giving some of your time and energy to help inspire today’s students. While we are all busy these days, carving out even just a couple of hours a year can make a huge difference in a child’s future. And fortunately the Massachusetts science ecosystem already provides many varied opportunities to volunteer for local causes that are dedicated to furthering interest in STEM. Below are just a few:

Citizen Schools brings together the resources of communities, companies, governments and philanthropies to help students achieve their dreams by closing the “opportunity gap.” They are always looking for volunteers to share their passion by leading apprenticeships for small groups of middle school students. These semester-long apprenticeships are hands-on opportunities for students to further develop their skills, whether they intend on becoming architects, lawyers, business owners, or of course, scientists.

Another great program is The Possible Project. It’s a three-year afterschool program that works with high school students from Cambridge, the majority of whom face barriers to success. With the help of volunteer mentors, students launch and operate their own entrepreneurial ventures, work as part of in-house businesses, and receive significant advising and assistance with post-high school planning. The Possible Project will serve 150 students this year and expects to increase to nearly 200 students in 2015.

There are also ways to support STEM education by volunteering for MassBioEd’s own programs, including hosting a classroom during the Career Exploration Day or serving as a guest speaker in a MassBioEd affiliated school classroom. Companies that choose to host a Career Exploration Day (like Biogen Idec has done in the past) can provide students with a lasting impression of what the real world of biotechnology is like and give students a peek into their potential future. On the other hand, it can also be beneficial for you to visit the classroom and share your our experience in the life sciences and how your STEM education led to career opportunities.

At Biogen Idec, we’re deeply committed to giving back to the communities in which we operate. One of these ways is through our Community Labs. Since opening a dozen years ago, more than 22,000 local students have spent time in our Community Lab in Cambridge. Read the rest of this entry