Students Attend National Workshop on How to Bring Research Idea to Market
BY LANDON MION
KENNESAW, Ga. (Dec 2020) — Kennesaw State University had three student representatives participate in the summer I-Corps Bio-Entrepreneurship workshop, all of whom are working toward their master’s degrees in integrative biology.
Morgan Woods, Azeeza Abdulrauf, and Lorenna Garcia-Bochas were all selected among applications from around the country to participate in this workshop, which was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the United Negro College Fund, the Ernest E. Just Institute for the Life Sciences, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), The California State University I-Corps, University of New Hampshire I-Corps, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology I-Corps.
The annual workshop aims to support entrepreneurship education, networking opportunities, and mentoring for faculty and student researchers. Participants work with industry professionals to learn about biotechnology commercialization, grow professional networks, and explore entrepreneurial opportunities that build on basic research.
The experience usually allows participants to travel to California for the multi-day workshop. However, due to COVID-19, the workshop was held virtually this year over a two-week period.
“The experience was wonderful,” Woods said, who currently researches how racial and socioeconomic disparities influence obesity amongst middle-aged women. “I learned things that I would have never learned about entrepreneurship, biotechnology, the rise and fall of a company, and the overall processes.”
The students were taught how to effectively identify between the most important problems and problems considered less of a priority. They learned that they need to be able to differentiate between these categories so they can find out who will be early investors for the product they might be pitching.
“The biggest takeaway was discovering that I could have my own biotech company,” said Garcia-Bochas, whose research interests focus on migrant, refugee and immigrant community health outcomes. “I always thought I needed a lot of money saved up, or investors, but actually there are a lot of small business grants that the U.S. government gives to those with a startup to get off the ground.”
The students also highlighted how the workshop was meaningful and beneficial to them as they learned skills applicable to their careers, as well as making professional connections that will aid them down the road.
“This conference meant a lot for me. My bachelor's degree is in biomedical engineering, and this is my drive for wanting to go into the industry,” said Abdulrauf, who is interested in studying autism. “Through this experience, I made lifelong connections with people who are or have been established in the industry. Now, I have mentors who can help me take the next steps in developing and producing my own medical devices for the autistic community.”