How Biocon Academy Has Turned Raw Talent Into Potential Industry Professionals

Biocon Academy – Genesis and Objective
Started by Biocon in 2014 as a corporate social responsibility initiative and centre of excellence for ‘advanced learning in applied biosciences’, Biocon Academy has successfully managed to grab the attention of thousands of biotechnology graduate/post-graduate job aspirants and hundreds of industry professionals across India. Within a span of 6 years of its existence, we have trained 650 life science graduate/ postgraduate students and successfully placed all of them in 40 biotech industries pan India. As a not-for-profit finishing school, we began our journey with an aim of bridging the gap between fresh life sciences graduates’ subject knowledge and lack of industry oriented skills. This skill development objective is achieved by providing tailor-made short-term certificate programs based on imparting industrial training to needy graduates. The hallmark of Biocon Academy initiatives has been turning raw talents into polished industry-ready professionals culminating in 100% placements in the industry across all programs and batches.

Biocon Academy’s training model
The success of our programs is attributable to adoption of a unique four-pillar-skill development training model. The First pillar – application-oriented industry-specific-teaching provided by renowned faculty of educational partners like Keck Graduate Institute (KGI), California, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, Hyderabad, Goa campuses and Ramaiah College, Bangalore. The Second pillar – functional-visit-based live-experiential-learning provided by ‘subject matter experts’ (SME) of Biocon/Syngene in their world class industrial facilities covering R&D, manufacturing, QC, QA, QC microbiology and national/international regulatory affairs. The Third pillar – providing ‘hands-on’ experience in lab & pilot scale fermentation, molecular biotechnology techniques for recombinant antibody development, characterization and clinical trial projects in collaboration with training partners – Thermo Fisher Scientific, BiOZEEN and Narayana Health. The Fourth pillar – campus-to-corporate professional-skill-development-program provided by corporate and in-house trainers to make students industry ready. Apart from providing biotech industry based conceptual knowledge, students are exposed to live projects at facilities of Biocon / partner industries. All certificate courses run by Biocon Academy are designed to develop industry-ready talent catering to India’s rapidly growing biotechnology industry sector.

Biocon Academy Programs: Flipped classroom in action
Biocon Academy offers five full time certificate programs for graduates and postgraduates in life sciences, pharmacy and chemistry and one program for biotech teaching faculty namely (a) Biocon-KGI certificate program in biosciences (18 weeks); (b) Biocon-KGI certificate program in bioscience management (16 weeks); (c) BITS-Biocon certificate program in applied industrial microbiology (8 weeks); (d) Biocon-KGI certificate program in clinical development (16 weeks); (e) Biocon-Ramaiah certificate program in quality control analytical (8 weeks) and (f) Biocon Academy certificate program in faculty development (2 week). So far we have successfully trained and placed 650 candidates in 40 biotech companies by completing 17 Batches of biosciences, 6 batches of applied industrial microbiology, 2 batches of clinical development, 1 batch of quality control analytical, 1 batch of bioscience management program and trained 70 faculty in 3 batches of fdp.

These five programs of Biocon Academy impart training in industry role specific diverse biotech areas like fermentation & process development, pharmaceutical development, biopharmaceutical quality assurance and control, molecular biotechnology, cmc regulations, mammalian cell biotechnology, bio-separations, introduction to bioscience Industries,  innovation management, international business strategy, operations management, applied industrial microbiology, pharmaceutical microbiology, quality system, EMP and bioburden, testing for sterility and endotoxin, microbiological quality of food and beverage, FSSAI and BIS, diagnostic microbiology, clinical biostatistics, clinical trial conduct, audit and compliance, clinical trial design, toxicology & PK/PD, data management systems for clinical trials, pharmacology, qms, analytical instrumentation, spectral and electrometric methods, chromatographic methods, quality analysis & stability testing.

A unique but successful teaching-learning model adapted by all courses at Biocon Academy has been, turning students into teachers via flipped classroom. Apart from writing regular assignments/tests, students get a chance to carry out individual/team based industrial-application-oriented-projects/case studies which they have to document and present to the faculty, thereby enabling improve their technical writing and speaking abilities. As they specifically apply their learning received from theoretical courses taught by faculty along with knowledge gained from experiential learning given by SME’s at Biocon/Syngene lab facilities, they end up getting a broad based understanding of industry applications.

The Faculty Development Program trains life science teaching faculty in the diverse areas of biotech market segments, biopharma departments & their functions, drug life cycle and development, cell line selection and characterization, media selection and optimization, Biosimilars, monoclonal antibodies, fermenters and microbial fermentation, bioreactors and mammalian cell culture, downstream processing – bioinstrumentation, Pharma quality unit, qualification, validation, cGMP, quality management system, QbD and qc microbiology.

Biocon Academy Student Selection Model
Without indulging into any advertisement and promotions, Biocon Academy has made its mark in the minds of biotech student community as a choice for getting industrial training and as a gateway to secure industry job. Our strong social media and outreach activities have grabbed the attention of students, teachers and parents at large. Be it the initiatives of regularly conducting ‘skill vs career’ awareness workshops & organizing webinars/seminars in university/college campuses or our strong association with biotech educational institutions as advisors / bos members for curriculum development, Biocon Academy has been in the forefront in providing timely guidance and information to students to help them choose suitable career path. This has led to students from all over India consistently applying to our programs either voluntarily or based on alumni/faculty advice as preferred choice. We have a gender neutral transparent but stringent eligibility criteria for our programs wherein eligible applicants have to go through HR and technical round of screening for selection. All our programs are of full-time mode demanding 100% attendance cum attention. All students selected for all programs offered get 50 to 75% scholarship from Biocon CSR funds for their course fee. Meritorious students who are from economically backward classes, get concessional educational bank loan facility support which comes with EMI holiday till they secure jobs and can start repaying.

Biocon Academy USP – Placements
The success story of Biocon Academy programs lie in not only providing Industry oriented training to the needy job aspiring candidates, but in providing 100% placement opportunities in Biotech and allied industries across all the programs offered. So far we have partnered with more than 40 biotech companies pan India for providing trained manpower in a non-commercial transparent model. While companies get to choose industry ready trained candidates for specific roles, students get a chance to choose the roles of their interests.  This successful placement model of Biocon Academy has led to consistent participation of all these companies in our placement drive resulting into hiring of 650 plus students so far. Some of the companies that have hired include Anthem Bio, Bharat Serums, Biocon, Cipla, Dr. Reddy’s Labs, GlaxoSmithKline, GVK Bio, Hetero, Intas, IQVIA, Indian Immunologicals, Indigene, Jana Care, Kemwell, Lupin, Merck, Mylan, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Novozymes, Panacea Biotec, Richcore, Saint Gobain, Serum Institute, Stelis, Syngene, Thermo Fisher, Zydus etc. Batch over batch, we are successful in attracting many large, medium scale and start-up Biotech companies to our placement drive. Although Indian universities and colleges are churning out thousands of biotech graduates year after year, many of them turn out to be not employable and hence choose non-biotech specific career options. While, a small percentage of these graduates and postgraduates end up choosing higher education, research and teaching career by choice, a vast majority of them face tough challenges to secure a suitable job in industry. There are several reasons and factors that contribute to this unfavourable situation like lack of trained faculty & adequate lab infrastructure, not updating the curriculum matching with skills in demand, not giving enough practical learning opportunities and lack of industry-academia collaboration. Hence, it is important that both government and private stakeholders take responsibility to address this grave situation. By establishing Biocon Academy, Biocon has not only taken a big-leap CSR initiative to address the training needs of hundreds of skill-deficit job-aspiring manpower, but also turned them into skilled and employable professionals by successfully providing job opportunities to all of them.

About the author

Ramgopal Rao S

Ramgopal Rao S

Biocon Academy (Biocon), Academic Manager

Dr. Ramgopal is working as Academic Manager in Biocon Academy, Bangalore since 2016 and manages advanced Skill Development Training Programs - Biocon–KGI Certificate Program in Biosciences and BITS–Biocon Certificate Program in Applied Industrial Microbiology, wherein Industrial Training is provided for Life Science Professionals with 100% placement opportunities in Biotechnology Industries. He manages Biocon Academy “Faculty Development Program” – an Industrial Training program for Life Science Faculty. He trains students on biotechnology Industry market scope, good manufacturing practices, clean rooms, biotech industrial facility design, process flow diagrams, ICH guidelines, pharmaceutical qualification, validation, biotech innovation, patents, career opportunities in biotech industries etc.

A gold medallist in his masters, ramgopal holds a PhD in plant biotechnology, a professional MBA and post graduate diploma in patents law to his credit. He has 20 plus years of professional experience in teaching, research, leadership and managerial roles in biotechnology sector. Earlier, as teaching faculty he taught biotechnology courses for b. tech/m. tech biotechnology programs for 12 years. He had a brief stint in CSIRO, Canberra, Australia as a visiting scientist. He has completed funded biotech research projects, published research papers in peer reviewed journals. four students have so far completed PhD under his guidance.

Ramgopal has delivered invited talks, conducted training/awareness workshops pan India on biotechnology, biopharmaceuticals, IPR, job skills, career opportunities etc. for the benefit of life science students and faculty. He spends his leisure time singing, playing Tabla and is passionate with chess, reading fiction & watching news.

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