Solvay Business School will train future managers in biotech and medtech

The business school is launching an Advanced Master in Biotech and MedTech Ventures. Purpose of this unique program: to train 25 to 30 managers per year in the life sciences.

It is often said that the growth of the Belgian biopharmaceutical sector is hampered by lack of skilled labor. But what is true for the recruitment of bio-engineers or skilled technicians also applies to the head of the company: managers with the ability to lead a life science company is a rare commodity. A phenomenon that is likely to worsen with the increasing number of companies in this sector.

Solvay Brussels School of Economics & Management wants to fill this gap by creating a Advanced Master in Biotech and MedTech Ventures. The program, which will be launched on the I3h research institute of ULB, aims to meet the life sciences industry’s need to find young talents capable of occupying management positions in the early stages of biotechnology and medical technology companies.

time and money



“We want to stay in line with Ernest Solvay: we are committed to the spirit of entrepreneurship, the creation of companies.”

Philip Vergauwen

Academic co-director of the program.

“I have noticed that there is difficulty in this profession to find trained leaders” explains former investment banker and business angel Pierre Drion, one of the fathers of this project. “It was necessary to poach them inside a nearby biotech or outside Belgium, or take people and train them. Solutions that take time and cost money ”added the former Petercam manager, who didn’t have to force his talent to encourage business school management to take over an initiative to meet “market demand”.

This advanced Master, to be launched next academic year, includes a intensive one-year program divided into five 10-day modules. It will be aimed at students-at least four years of university study-but also at young professionals from a variety of backgrounds: science, bio-engineering, finance, law. “We target young talent, because we want to stay in line with Ernest Solvay: we focus on the spirit of entrepreneurship, the creation of companies “, underlines Philip Vergauwen, former dean of Solvay Brussels. School and academic co-director of the program. Objective: 25 to 30 participants train each year.

75%

Some 75% of the courses will be taught by industry leaders.

The program focuses primarily on practical cases, with 75% of the courses to be taught by industry leaders. Participants will “learn how to build a product, build a team, get funding in the seed phase,” argues industry co-director Marc Dechamps, who manages all structuring and start-up of the project. . “We want to start from the beginning of the company and follow its development every step until an IPO or an acquisition or marketing. We’re going to talk about the big pharma discussionswhere it is better to be prepared ”, added its former GSK employee, who has a solid career in the Walloon biotech sector.

“These five modules will be intense and full-time, full-time, with active participation”, Philip Vergauwen further notes. “It’s going to be very dynamic, participatory learning, within a team. It’s about re -creating the environment in which they will work afterwards. We will not use traditional tests for evaluation. ”



“It’s not something you can do at night or on the weekend on top of your work. You have to devote a year to it.”

Marc Dechamps

Co-Director of Program Industry

Many tasks need to be assigned between each module. “We will have the equivalent of 1,800 hours of work per year. This is not something you can do at night or on the weekends in addition to your work. You have to spend a year here, ”Marc Dechamps added.

The project is solid. Many partners contributed, providing seed funding for at least three years. Founding partner Degroof-Petercam is joined by the King Baudouin Foundation, SFPI and sponsors such as Newton BioCapital, Euronext, 2Bridge, Virdis Group, and Declerq & Partners. Discussions with private actors are still ongoing. “We are now looking for something to give scholarships. The price of training – 20,000 euros – is in the low range in Europe for this type of program, but not so important in Belgium”, admits Marc Dechamps. “We are in an unsubsidized practice, which means we are taking risks. But cost should not be a barrier. An executive MBA is more expensive, but having scholars is very important, ”agrees Bruno van Pottelsberghe, the current dean of Solvay Brussels School.

Flemish participation

While it responds to an immediate need, this new program also benefits very strong support from the life sciences ecosystem. A consortium of academic and industrial partners from all regions – especially in VIB (Ghent) and KU Leuven on the Flemish side – contributed significantly to the initiative. European ambitions are also, especially since there is really no equivalent training on the continent. “Our goal is to be European, to attract participants from Europe and even more. The school wants to internationalize, it is through this kind of program that we will do it ”, concludes Bruno van Pottelsberghe.

The summary

  • Solvay Brussels School of Economics & Management is launching an advanced Master’s for biotechnology companies and the medical sector.
  • The goal is to train 25 to 30 managers per year in the life sciences, an increasingly rare commodity as the sector develops.
  • Founding partner Degroof-Petercam is joined by the King Baudouin Foundation, the SFPI and several private sponsors.
  • Some 75% of the courses will be taught by industry leaders.

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