Biotechnology is all about harnessing the power of living cells and materials for use in environmental, diagnostic, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. In essence, biotechnology is all about using the raw ingredients of life to help solve society’s problems. It can also commonly be referred to as life sciences or genetic engineering, which involves exploiting cell and tissue culture technologies to produce lots of wonderful things.
The industry draws from a variety of different knowledge bases, with microbiology, genetics, biochemistry, chemical engineering and I.T. all having a significant impact. It is predicted that biotechnology will become one of the most important applied sciences of this century and beyond – and so now is the perfect time to get involved with a graduate job.
Why is it important? What does it involve?
A remarkable amount of solutions used in genetics, immunology, chemical engineering and agriculture would not exist if biotechnology had not made its huge contribution over the last few decades. With around 1,000 biotech and biotech-related companies operating in the UK alone, the industry is pretty big and getting bigger.
UK companies account for 35% of products in development across Europe and 41% of new drugs at the clinical trials stage. In short, the biotech industry is booming in the UK, which means there are many career opportunities available.
As with the pharmaceutical industry, there’s a big focus on research and development. However, once the product is finalised it needs to be created on a mass scale and shipped out. This is where the manufacturing of biotech products comes into play.
How does biotech manufacturing work?
Although there are some huge multinational companies that indulge in graduate schemes for the brightest young minds, the majority of biotech opportunities arise within small companies: usually university spin-offs that are heavily embedded in research and development.
When a new discovery is shipped out of one of these research and development establishments and all the relevant clinical trials have given it the go ahead, the product is likely to enter mass production (this is obviously dependent on the market size though). At this point, engineers, operatives and production managers are required to produce the compounds in the most cost-effective manner.
Since we’re talking about extremely complex biotech products here, the manufacturing processes are anything but straightforward. Processes, such as material tracking, lab systems integration, asset management, production dispatching and regulatory reporting, mean that a small army of highly-skilled professionals are required to deliver the finished products.
If you’re barmy about biology and want to be involved in human cloning (trust me, we’re not far off) then why not consider a career in biotechnology manufacturing?