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MPhil in Bioscience Enterprise

Course Description

The Masters in Bioscience Enterprise (MBE) programme is an intensive, taught science and business course intended for those who have an interest in enterprise and the ambition to found technology companies or take up leadership, executive or consultancy roles in the life sciences sector. Practical experience is gained through individual and group professional practice assignments, a consulting project and an internship placement, both of which are conducted with host companies.

Applicants must have a good first degree in biological, medical or physical sciences or a financial or legal background and demonstrate a strong interest in pursuing a business career in the life science sector. MBE students are based at the Institute of Biotechnology and have a close affiliation to Judge Business School, a combination that provides an unparalleled educational experience and an opportunity to learn from leading scientists, entrepreneurs and academics at the University of Cambridge.

Learning is based on real business examples and lectures and case studies are frequently delivered by senior company executives. There are optional opportunities to gain a global perspective of the industry sector during a study tour to a international biotechnology business cluster, an event which may be planned and led by members of the class. Additional costs are incurred by students who elect to participate in these activities or incur other discretionary expenses associated with participation in the programme.

See the website http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/egcempbse

Course detail

The educational aims of the M.Phil. programme in Bioscience Enterprise are to:

- Enhance understanding of life sciences and related technological developments;
- Foster research and analytical skills and methodologies;
- Develop written and verbal communication skills;
- Provide knowledge of the ethical, legal and regulatory issues associated with bringing scientific advances to market;
- Develop applied business skills, including those that enable students to:
*identify potential business opportunities arising from research in life sciences and related areas;
*exploit entrepreneurial opportunities;
*undertake senior executive roles within biotechnology companies and other commercial entities.

Other aims of the programme are to:

- Provide a coherent and supportive learning environment, with students working closely with teachers drawn from both academic and biotechnology business executive backgrounds and whose teaching is informed by their own knowledge and business expertise;
- Develop new areas of teaching in response to advances of scholarship and the community;
- Continue to attract outstanding students, irrespective of race, nationality, background, gender or physical disability.

Learning Outcomes

Students gain an understanding of:

- Life sciences, including fundamental concepts of basic science and demonstration of how contemporary biological and medical research leads to exploitable science and commercial products;
- Business, including commercial and analytical skills required in biotechnology and healthcare related businesses;
- Management, including strategy, organisation, leadership, marketing and financing of technology companies;
- Technology transfer, from academia to industry and from industry to industry, including the concepts of licensing, partnering, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions;
- Law and intellectual property frameworks, relating to companies, individuals and shareholders in different jurisdictions;
- Social and ethical issues, including fundamental constraints when applying scientific research to the development of new bioscience products;
- Global biotechnology, including comparisons of the current industry status in the UK, Europe, USA and elsewhere.


Science and technology, business and transitionary modules are taught in each term, integrating commercial know-how with advances in research and demonstrating the many complex issues associated with bringing discovery and innovation from the laboratory to the market. The programme is highly participatory and includes practical elements in the form of interdisciplinary projects, workshops, case studies and business planning activities. Students have opportunities to undertake a consulting project and a technology company internship placement, and to gain an international perspective during a (self-funded, optional, student planned and led) study tour to a biotechnology business cluster in the EU or USA.

The MBE class is taught as a single entity. There are no elective components and all students follow the same syllabus. The class offers a professional practice experience and a high level of participation is expected. All lectures and course components are mandatory.

The department is renowned for its practical and successful approach to biotechnology entrepreneurship and the exploitation of bioscience inventions. Students benefit from a unique combination of teaching and mentoring from experienced business and academic contributors. The faculty pursue a variety of research interests and the application of the resulting technologies has led to the founding of many spin-out companies. Our innovative achievements and strong Master's teaching were recognised by the Queen's Anniversary Award (2007).


In April and May of each year, MBE students spend the majority of their time working in a company placement, carrying out research with a commercial or business dimension. Students are encouraged at this time to put into practice the lessons learnt from the academic aspects of the programme as well as to demonstrate originality of research and analysis. The MBE staff provides considerable support to students in regard to both identifying suitable projects and during the placement itself.

It is important that the project undertaken relates to the field of ‘bioscience enterprise’, addresses a defined research question and affords students the opportunity to collect quantitative and qualitative data. The subsequent analysis forms the basis of a substantial dissertation and the findings are also presented at a Symposium held at the end of the year, as well as in the form of conclusions and recommendations for the host company.


A 10,000 word dissertation is an important aspect of course assessment. Passing this element of the course is crucial to attainment of the degree. The work is based on data collected during a research placement in a company, the analysis of which forms the basis of the work. The dissertation should show evidence of innovative thinking and must not be simply a review and subsequent extrapolation of previously published work.

Written submissions include in-depth science and technology in business papers, up to 10 essays of no more than 4000 words, a number of short reports and critical appraisals, a consulting project report and a dissertation of no more than 10,000 words based on research and analysis conducted during the internship placement. At the conclusion of the dissertation students make an assessed presentation. The Examiners may ask candidates to take an oral exam at the conclusion of the course.

Attainment is continuously assessed, with particular emphasis on practical activities, participation and learning through team-work in the research, preparation, and delivery of presentations. Where possible group work reflects the activities of a professional business environment.

Students are also encouraged to participate in extracurricular enterprise activities, including entrepreneurial competitions within the University and further afield, and submit a business development plan as one of the course assignments.


Students completing this course usually continue their career in the life sciences commercial sector but a number also at the conclusion of the course apply for PhD research programmes in either science or management disciplines.

Find out how to apply here http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying

Funding Opportunities

Students normally fund their studies through savings, loans, by a grant from their employer or by securing a scholarship from either a Cambridge Trust or other awarding body. The competition for scholarship awards is intense and candidates are advised that only a small percentage of the highest-achieving applicants are successful.

A limited number of bursaries are available to MBE students through the generosity of the Chris R. Lowe Carpe Diem Bursary programme and at times from other sources associated with the course. Candidates who meet the eligibility criteria set by the donors and are offered a place to study on the course will be automatically considered for these awards as part of their application process. Usually these awards are made to students on the basis of economic need, or those who live in or have studied in and intend to pursue their future careers in the UK.

Please note that the programme bursaries, whilst at times substantial, are not intended to cover all the costs associated with living and studying at Cambridge and therefore applicants must ensure they have access to sufficient funds to cover the balance of their tuition and College fees and maintenance needs.

General Funding Opportunities http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/finance/funding

Visit the MPhil in Bioscience Enterprise page on the University of Cambridge website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Victor Dillard

The MBE covers biotechnology in all its glory, from drug discovery and development, to medical devices as well as agro-biotechnology. This is done in-depth both in science and business. The MBE gives you perspectives all the way from large pharma to small biotech start-up, as well as regulators and academia. As a result, the course offers the set of skills needed to be versatile, adaptable and knowledgeable in the industry. From a chemical engineering background, with a focus in pharmaceutical manufacturing and a desire to enter the biotech sector in its broadest sense, the MBE was the ideal springboard to launch my career in the biotech industry as co-founder of Desktop Genetics.

(Student Profile)

Michael Anderson Burley

Cambridge has a slightly surrealist tone as a quaint medieval town hosting pre-eminent scientific research. Its colleges bequeath unique legacies and in parallel foster inter-disciplinary communities. These, by consequence, are invested with a sense of purpose and responsibility to author real impacts on society at large.

The MBE builds on this phenomenon by bringing together a diversity of would-be-players in the bioscience ecosystem and running them through boot camp. Although the lectures by senior industry professionals were a novelty, for me personally the main highlight was the dozen iterations of project work with different mixes of classmates. This not only built friendships and crucial skills, it also significantly contributed to the holistic perspective that is the major asset derived from the MBE course.

(Student Profile)

Jaime Domingues

The Masters in Bioscience Enterprise is the perfect programme for integrating entrepreneurial expertise and knowledge with biotechnological innovation. It covers aspects relating to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries in depth. It gives unique insight into a wide range of aspects from the drug discovery process to the regulatory systems involved with developing pharmaceutical products. It has allowed me to creatively and critically explore and develop my commercial and entrepreneurial knowledge and ideas as well as be exposed to a wide breadth of biotechnological developments from agro-biotechnology to medical devices.

Having a background in molecular genetics and a desire for business development the MBE programme has allowed me both to develop my interpersonal skills with a keen focus on group activities and useful insight into the biotech industry.


Entry Requirements

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK High II.i Honours Degree. An excellent first degree in the physical or life sciences, medicine, economics or law. Postgraduate experience in an academic, industrial, or business environment is highly advantageous but not essential. Find University Minimum Academic Requirements here View Website

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