The RTP Biotech Scene, CED Biotech Forum

One of the reasons I chose the Duke MBA Health Sector Management (HSM) program was because of its location in the Research Triangle Park (RTP). RTP is one of the leading biotech hubs in the world. The region is home to 422 bioscience companies and is anchored by 3 research universities - Duke, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University.

RTP was a target location for me as I wanted to network with biotech professionals and gain a meaningful experience with those firms during my 2 years in the Duke MBA program.

This week's CED Biotech Forum gave me just that. CED is the Southeast's largest entrepreneurship support organization, and they host a monthly biotech forum in partnership with the NC Biotechnology Center. Even though it was finals week for our Fall 2 term, I made an effort to clear out my evening schedule to attend this month's event, titled Partnering: Thinking Beyond the Deal.

There were roughly 30-40 folks who showed up at the event and I spoke to a few people in consulting and accounting firms and a local CRO. It was also great to connect with the CED folks, as they're organizing a very big life sciences conference in February and a few classmates and I plan to volunteer for it. I also was connected with people at the NC Biotech Center to learn about local funding and support initiatives for my biotech startup project (more on this later). It was great to meet people who were in the ancillary services for biosciences as these were topics we were currently discussing in my startup project.

There were 3 speakers - 3 CEOs of local biotech firms (one of which was a Fuqua alum), each representing companies in the early-, mid-, late-stages of development. Lots of invaluable practical wisdom were shared. Each CEO offered their own experiences partnering with pharma and gave detailed advice to an inquisitive audience. In addition to all the relevant advice, I was also able to get a burning question answered for my startup team.

I can't understate the importance of this event to my startup project and educational experience. The speakers were 20-30 years ahead of me in my career and offered timely wisdom. Drug development is fraught with risks and a lot of that is simply not having the experience in taking a molecule through the pipeline. In my own project, I'm finding that knowing which questions to ask is in itself a challenge, and attending this event helped define some of those questions.

The registration at the door was $40 (for non-CED members). A small price to pay for the fantastic networking and valuable insights. These events outside of Duke are a very nice addition to the Fuqua HSM program.

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