The BioExperience Research and Entrepreneurship Challenge

Image by Adrien Converse

What is the BioExperience?

The BioExperience is an unique undergraduate talent and skills development program that connects students to bioeconomy partners and academic faculty through an applied research projects. Students work with a team for 12-16 weeks over the course of the summer to complete an industry- or community-based applied research project and develop solutions to a practical bioeconomy-related problem.

 

This problem is posed by a team 'client', which can be a biotech start-up or establish business, a government or non-government organization, an academic or non-academic research lab, or any other bioeconomy partner with a problem that students are interested in working on.

Image by Michael Schiffer

Why is the BioExperience important?

We cannot predict what the next breakthrough will be. But we can prepare the next generation of researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs take advantage of these breakthroughs whatever they might be!

The growth of the Canadian bioeconomy is driven by advancements in biotechnology, which has dramatically expanded the realm of possibilities for the development of sustainable products from renewable resources.

 

These products include biology-based textiles to replace petrochemical polyesters and water-draining cotton, and biology-based building materials to replace highly polluting cements. This may sound utopian, but so did animal-free meats, mRNA-based vaccines and genetically engineering cancer cures just a few years ago.

Student-Centered learning

The unique structure of the program facilitates the development of hard-to-learn “soft” skills that are aligned with evidence-based talent and skills development priorities specific to the Canadian economy, as well as field-specific competencies related to their applied research project. 

 

Financial security

Students are paid employees and work on their project for up to 16 weeks. This is important because it reduces socio-economic barriers to participation and helps develop a learning environment that nurtures creativity and collaboration. It also gives participants the time they need to adapt to challenges, recover from and correct errors, and develop robust skills and competencies through practice.

De-risked engagement

Students work with a their client, but are not bound by contractual or financial obligations to them or their faculty advisors. Students are employed by BioGroupe Canada and cannot tell participant what do to do, how to do it or when to do it. This helps create an environment that is open to creative ideas and student-led initiatives, and supports risk-taking and opportunity-seeking mindsets while encouraging constructive and collaborative conflict resolution.

How does the BioExperience work?

There is consensus among bioeconomy employers, including academic and non-academic scientists, that Canada's post-secondary graduates lack essential ‘soft skills’: such as problem-solving, collaboration, communication, adaptability, and interpersonal relations.

 

These skills are difficult to acquire through undergraduate programs that rely on conventional instructor-led, didactic teaching methods. 

​The BioExperience is a unique talent and skills development program where students work in teams to define their own goals and develop their own ideas and problem-solving strategies to achieve these goals. In this student-centered, project-based learning approach, students work together to construct a learning environment that reflect their individual  interests, needs, and strengths, and rely on the collective knowledge and abilities to solve an applied research challenge.

 

The challenge is chosen by students' interests and career goals, is presented to the team by a community partner, the team 'client', which can be a biotech start-up or established business, a government or non-government organization, an academic or non-academic research labs, or any other BioGroupe Canada partner with a meaningful unsolved bioeconomy-related problem that motive and inspire students.