BMOL40120 The Business of Biotechnology and Science

Academic Year 2022/2023

The objective of this module is to offer students a solid introduction into the business of biotechnology and to make them understand how biotechnology firms capture and create value. The module starts with a case study in which the basic concepts used in the business of biotechnology are introduced. The first lecture will be followed by lectures that address theoretical concepts that allow a structured study of the business of biotechnology. We will try to build a theory of the business (following Donaldson) and will discuss theories of innovation (Rogers, Kano, Schumpeter etc) and the cognitive theory of the firm (Nooteboom). We will also discuss the products derived from industrial biotechnology research and development with a special focus on biotherapeutics and their development process. We will proceed by asking the question about the value of a firm, a project or an idea. Can we put a number on that value? Should we only value an idea from a financial point of view? How do investors value a new idea or company? How much profit do they expect to make? And when? Can one diagnose the health of a biotech company? An important lecture will therefore discuss venture capital and the valuation of biotechnology companies and their projects. The creation of breakthrough products in biotechnology will also be discussed as well as the principles of biotech-innovation and the biotechnology value chain. Why is financial planning important even if you have a great biotechnology or science idea? How do you structure a deal? What about exits? How are biotech drugs assessed by third parties and regulatory authorities? Biotherapeutics are extremely expensive drugs and we should ask the question about the affordability of these products to poor people and how this impacts the reputation of the industry. What is regulatory aversion and what is the role of patient advocacy groups (remember the AIDS activists)? We will also address how teams of scientists should be led (realizing that scientists are notoriously difficult people to lead...!). A Master Class with a top biotech investor is foreseen. In short, the module will prepare the students for a swift move either into the business of biotechnology (major corporations or small ventures), in academia (with a sound understanding how academic research finds its way into the business environment) and what it means to think in terms of business as well as in terms of biotechnological research and development.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

The student will have acquired a thorough understanding of the business environment in which biotech (and pharmaceutical) companies operate, the principles that guide the management of these companies, the process of biotech drug development and the risks involved, the evaluation of biotech drug products and current management theories. In fact you, will be ready to have an in-depth discussion with industrial managers and academics alike.

The assessment approach (see further) will be an oral examination with a written preparation but the exact approach will be discussed with the students.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
In-lecture debates and discussions 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Examination: Final exam : either as face to face oral individual examination, as group team essays or written individual exam depending upon the COVID situation at that time 1 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded Yes


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring Yes - 1 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Individual feedback upon request by students is possible

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Tues 14:00 - 15:50