'Ask Industry Anything' event for researchers

10 February 2017


VIIN hosted ten mid- and early-career researchers from our contributing organisations at the November 2016 "Ask Industry Anything" event, organised by BioMelbourne Network.

Aimed at increasing industry-academic engagement by talking about the issues and challenges around collaboration, the workshop featured a large list of representatives from industry, a panel discussion and more personal "round table" conversations with specific industry experts.

VIIN's participants at the workshop offered these insights following their conversations with industry experts:

About collaborating with industry

This event increased my awareness of barriers to academia-industry collaborations and how to overcome these. Barriers include the preference that many researchers have for public money over industry money and misalignment of expectations about industry funding. To overcome these barriers, both sides need to establish active listening skills and understand what the the other party is looking for.

Researchers need to be aware that the strategic directions of companies can change. It's not only about the quality of research, but whether our research aligns with the company's goals and whether shareholders will be happy with where their money is going.

Following initial investments in a research project conducted with an industry partner, it is important to quickly transition from depending on investment money to establishing a cash-flow. This is easier in some industries than others.

Business is a necessary step for 'bench to bedside' to occur. 

Like all relationships, those between academia and industry need to be based on trust


About job-seeking in industry

I found the workshop very valuable, particularly the panel discussion about what skills they look for and what to include in a CV to make it attractive to industry.

CVs for industry must have a cover letter.  This is used to demonstrate that you're suited to that company.  Don't just list papers.  Tell them in the cover letter how these relate (if they do) to the role.  Address the selection criteria (if applying for advertised position).  If you get an interview, research the company and their website and beyond that. Qualities industry look for: high quality research and publications; an ability to troubleshoot; the capacity to deliver; whether you're able to communicate your science well and have good listening skills.

Skills important for connecting with industry: create and build a great track record/CV, know your product/expertise, deliver on tasks, articulate and communicate well, explain complex knowledge succinctly, apply technology to other applications, active listening skills are important, be innovative, know your markets, sell your skill-set in your cover letter, build problem solving techniques.


About the workshop itself

The round table sessions were excellent for creating discussion. It was a great way to be introduced to different companies and find out what jobs exist.

I was most struck by how many of the questions from the floor are the same ones that come up every year. It highlighted a better need for researchers to become aware of industry structure and to know the expectations and processes of their own university or institute when dealing with industry.

I was impressed by how keen the industry representatives are to engage with researchers, and to share their knowledge. 

I really enjoyed the session, it was good to see how direct/blunt the industry representatives were.


Speakers included:

Ms Sam Cobb, CEO, Adalta Pty Ltd
Ms Kathy Connell, Director New Ventures ANZ, Johnson and Johnson Innovation Centre
Dr Erol Harvey, PhD, FTSE , Chief Executive Officer, MiniFAB (Aust) Pty Ltd
Mr Matthew Hoskin, Chief Operating Officer, Sienna Cancer Diagnostic Ltd
Dr Phil Kearney PhD MBA, Director, Business Development and Licensing and also Director of BioMelbourne Network, Merck Sharp and Dohme Australia
Dr John Lambert, Senior Director, Medicines Development Ltd
Dr Patrick McManamny, Partner, FB Rice
Mr Paul McDonald, Contract Manufacturing Lead, Pfizer Global Supply Melbourne
Dr Tim Oldham, CEO, Cell Therapies Pty Ltd
A.Prof. Craig Rayner, Chief Executive Officer, d3 Medicine LLC
Dr David Rhodes, Chief Scientific Officer, Admedus Ltd
Ms Filippa Shub, Director of Intellectual Property, Starpharma Pty Ltd
Mr Ken Windle, CEO, Advent Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd

For more information about the event: http://biomelbourne.org/event/ask-industry-anything/


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