Activating Your Inner Entrepreneur

The fifth major symposium of Plant Biology 2017, organized by ASPB President Sally Mackenzie (University of Nebraska), is dedicated to entrepreneurship in plant science.

Plant biology researchers in academic labs make important discoveries with implications for agriculture, bioenergy, biomaterials, and human health. How can you, the researcher, translate your discoveries into real-world products? The “Plant Scientist: Entrepreneur” Symposium, featuring Phil Benfey (Duke University), Michael Sussman (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Chris Somerville (University of California at Berkeley), and Su-May Yu (Academia Sinica), centers on the hows and whys of channeling your inner entrepreneur.

You don’t need to mortgage the farm to start your company– universities are pursuing interdisciplinary collaborations with industry, and several have created funds to support startup initiatives on their campuses. Venture capitalists have recognized the potential for growth in agricultural biotechnology and invest heavily in ag startups working in areas such as biofuels, trait development, high-value outputs, biopharmaceuticals, nutrition, precision agriculture, technology including robotics and drones, and soil health and microbiome management. New startups also offer services targeted to the research community, from genotyping and phenotyping technologies to assistance in public engagement, science communication, and publishing.

Even if you don’t want to start your own company, the ag biotech world offers job opportunities that provide attractive alternatives to academia. “It is unusual to have a session focused on entrepreneurship in an ASPB meeting,” says session speaker Phil Benfey. “Anyone who has thought about starting a company or working for a start-up company should find this session of interest.”

“Plant Scientist: Entrepreneur” will be held 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM Wednesday, June 28, 2017 at Plant Biology 2017 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Registration is open now. For more information and a full list of the multidisciplinary sessions on offer, visit Plant Biology 2017.

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