The 16-week certificate programme in biotechnology , aims at equipping students with skills required for the industry.

Development in the world of biotechnology has provided us with a better perspective to the world we live in. Be it energy crisis, climate change or modifying crops for healthy consumption, biotechnology plays a significant role. It has emerged as a career to reckon with, and students are increasingly opting to pursue their higher education in this field.

Due to limited opportunities and scope available within India for research and hands-on experience in biotechnology, students prefer going abroad to pursue their master's or PhD. In a bid to arm biotech graduates with the knowledge and skills to make them employable through a combination of advanced learning and industrial training, Biocon has launched a 16-week, full-time certificate programme in collaboration with Keck Graduate Institute (KGI), California.

Modules on technical courses, professional skills, and industrial expert mentorship are the three chief components of the programme. Dr. Meghana Joshi, the programme director and faculty, Biocon-KGI Certificate Programme in biosciences, says the Biocon team believes that a transformation will be observable in students by the time the programme draws to a close. At the end of four months, students will be trained in molecular biotechnology, pharmaceutical development, biopharmaceutical quality assurance and control, introduction to US FDA and European laws and regulations, mammalian cell biotechnology, bio separation engineering and science, professional skills development and more.

Existing scenario

Dr. Susan Bain, Professor, KGI says, “While India has immense talent in the Biotech sector, it continues to remain untapped. It is important to create facilities that will help harness the existing talent.” “In the U.S., however, opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience encompass a wide range of possibilities, and they are able to add more knowledge and experience that enhances their repertoire,” she says.

Priyanka Sampath , a student of the Biocon Academy concurs, “Upon completion of my undergraduate degree in biotechnology, myself and my friends applied for this 16-week programme. While we are degree holders, which bears testimony to the fact that we are professionals in the field, it cannot be denied that as freshers, we lack the technical know-how and practical experience that makes us ready for the industry.” Priyanka further explains how there is expectation from the industry that freshers do not meet, and she cites this as a reason why many of them are not hired despite holding degrees.

Bridging the gap

S.S. Easwaran, academic director at Biocon Academy says there exists a four-layer gap between academic output and industry expectations. “The first layer of the gap can be traced to the process know-how which explains how students who study about various processes in textbooks are unable to associate the information with the practical aspects.” The second layer encompasses the technology know-how which looks into how students are aware of the technique, but do not possess the knowledge to apply the technique to the technology that is available. “For instance, students know how gene cloning is done. However, many of them have no inkling about how it plays an integral role in the development of a drug molecule,” he points out.

Regulatory know-how, elucidates Mr. Easwaran, is the third layer of the gap that needs to be bridged. “All process in bio-pharmaceutical companies are regulated by Indian regulations like DCGI or FDI. Students do not have a complete background of how drug manufacturing is regulated by regulatory bodies.” The final layer is the professional know-how, where students learn about professional ethics.

The programme’s curriculum is constructed in such a way that students are equipped with both theoretical knowledge as well as ample practical experience.

“Students are exposed to communication and networking skills that prepare them to interact with colleagues. At the end of 16 weeks, they are all industry-ready and raring to go,” says Mr. Easwaran.

Himabindu Vallabhareddy from Andhra Pradesh who is participating in this programme says, “We are in contact with a number of qualified professionals. This will give us the skills and accreditation required in order to succeed in the future.”