Bioentrepreneurship: Beginner’s Guide

Are you a life scientist but looking to start your own business?

Do you have any idea for your business?

Is it any molecule that you just discovered or modified that have some novel utility?

Or some kind process that is potentially marketable?

Have you ever asked these questions to yourself?

If yes, then congratulations. You are in the right spot and this guide on Bioentrepreneurship is for you exactly.

To make things easier, We have divided this guide into several sections.

Introduction to Bioentrepreneurship

Bioentrepreneurship is the integration of two different disciplines, science, and business. It is the flow of innovation from academia to industry. Unlike Entrepreneurship, Bioentrepreneurship is entirely academia-powered.

Or Simply, an entrepreneurial business based on the Biotechnology is known as Bioentrepreneurship. Biotech-based business is usually started by a researcher so that’s why a Bioentrepreneur has more knowledge of its product than any other entrepreneur.

Bioentrepreneurship is the integrated activity that creates, develops and commercializes the biotechnology product.

Bioentrepreneur is not shadowed by the business risks but scientific risks are haunting him. The aim of Biotechnology-based business is to commercialize the research and deliver its potential benefit to the human race.

Significance of Bioentrepreneurship

Humans is using Biotechnology-based products since the dawn of civilization. Our today’s products are not less than miracles for our ancestors. The reality is that these products are based on their knowledge and our scientific research. Today, biotechnology-based products are the part of our daily life.

1. Potential of Heal, Feed, and Fuel

Biotechnology has enabled the creation of breakthrough products and technologies to combat disease, protect the environment, feed the hungry, produce fuels, and make other useful products.

Helping Save and Extend Lives

Biotechnology product developments are transforming the practice of medicine and providing new and better ways to detect, treat, and prevent disease. These products provide targeted treatments to minimize health risks and side-effects for individual patients. Biotechnology tools and techniques open new research avenues for discovering how healthy bodies work and what goes wrong when problems arise.

Helping to Feed the World

One of the challenges that biotech scientists and bioentrepreneurs are working to solve is how we address the needs of a growing world population. Today, there are more than 7 billion people living on our planet. However, by 2050, the global population is expected to reach 9 billion. That is much more mouths to feed. In fact, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO), we will have to double world food production to do it. With most of the world’s arable land already in production, we’ll need to make existing acreage much more productive. Biotechnology is helping us do so.

Biotech crops were used by more than 17.3 million farmers on more than 420 million acres of farmland in 28 countries.

The era of biotechnology-enhanced agriculture began in the 1990s with government approval for commercial deployment of biotech soybeans, corn, cotton, canola, and papaya. Because of their tremendous production advantages, biotech crops have become the most rapidly adopted technology in the history of agriculture and, in 2013, biotech crops were used by more than 17.3 million farmers on more than 420 million acres of farmland in 28 countries.

Better Ways to Protect Environment

Industrial biotechnology is one of the most promising new approaches to help meet the global challenges of preventing pollution, conserving energy and natural resources, and reducing manufacturing costs. The application of biotechnology to industrial processes is transforming how we produce existing products and helping to generate new products that were not even imagined a few years ago.Industrial Biotechnology - Bioentrepreneurship

Industrial biotechnology uses natural biological processes, such as fermentation and the harnessing of enzymes, yeasts, and microbes as microscopic manufacturing plants, to produce useful products.

Among the products being made with industrial biotechnology are biodegradable plastics, renewable chemicals, energy-saving low-temperature detergents, pollution-eating bacteria, multi vitamins, and biofuels.


With the growing adoption of industrial biotech, we are in the early stages of an emerging biobased economy that meets some of the most important needs of our global civilization


2. Second Largest Economy

Worldwide production of biobased products – including biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased polymers – is projected to grow from approximately $203.3 billion in 2015 to $400 billion by 2020 and $487 billion by 2024. The United States is well-positioned to capture a large share of that projected growth, due to investments made today in first-of-a-kind production capacity, innovative research, and development, as well as employment and training of U.S. workers.

Between 2010 and 2015, investors pumped nearly $9.2 billion into the industrial biotechnology sector

This funding came primarily in renewable chemicals and biobased polymers. The funding came from a variety of sources, including private equity and some public investment. But the majority of the investment and financing – $5.3 billion (57 percent) – came from venture capital. Venture capital investments primarily target research and development of new technologies, and synthetic biology start-ups have garnered the largest share in recent years.

Biobased economy - Bioentrepreneurship
Biobased economy and sector projections Courtesy: Bio Innovation Organization


Bioentrepreneurship Versus Entrepreneurship

There is many similarities between two of them such as a great idea to start with, funds to production, a skillful team and leader to overcome obstacles. But the differences are quite larger than the similarities. The challenges faced by a bioentrepreneur is usually not encountered by an entrepreneur such as long development periods, enormous fundings, strict regulatory and scientific uncertainty.

1. Incubation requires more time

If we look into the incubation and acceleration periods of IT-based start-ups than usually, it is less than a year. But if you are creating a drug or vaccine then it can take around 12 years to come into the market, if everything goes well. Bioentrepreneurial startups take more time to complete than others. The reason is quite simple, it is easier to create an Internet application than to develop a biological molecule with can be commercialized.

2. Requires more capital

Biotech-based companies require millions of dollars uninterruptible for decades. Research and development cost a fortune to funders so find a big investor is usually a difficult task. This is the why Biotech companies prefer to the joint venture and merger with bigger companies.

Eli Lilly acquired Pacific Biotech in 1990 and Origin Medsystems and Heart Rhythm Technologies, Incorporated in 1992. In the early 1990s, Lilly combined these medical equipment companies into a Medical Devices and Diagnostics Division that “contributed about 20 percent” of Lilly’s annual revenues.

The bioentrepreneur must have in their mind (and on paper) a good estimate of the total capital required to reach each value-enhancing milestone in order to remain attractive to subsequent investors. Funding gaps are not unusual for a development-stage company; however, it is incumbent upon the leader to be sure that these short-term and temporary funding gaps do not cause the demise of the company.

3. Strict Regulations

A product of Biotech-based company usually goes through several phases or trails and scrutiny of regulatory authorities before coming to the market. Even after that, the post-market analysis is conducted. In US, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in Japan JFDA and in Kora KFDA are examples of some regulatory authorities. Since biotechnology products require numerous years of development, it would not be unusual to observe regulatory requirements modified or changed between the time your product development started and when your product is fully developed. Regulatory requirements differ for agricultural products, medical devices, laboratory tests, therapeutics, and biologics. List of Regulatory authorities by WHO.

Essential Bioentrepreneurial Characteristics

There are certain characteristics that must prevail in you if you want to be a Bioentrepreneur. These characteristics are something more than just the skills. 

1. Awareness of Unknown-Unknowns


A bioentrepreneur faces two type of problems, first are Known-Unknowns in which they know their limitations and seeks the help of experts. A bioentrepreneur is usually an expert in one field only, either its biology, chemistry or biotechnology. When ever there are some issues related to finance, accounting, compliance, production, transportation or marketing. He will hire some expert to resolve the problem.

The known-unknowns refer to having full recognition and awareness of limited information in an area that is critical to the company or future success, and you are also aware that you do not have enough knowledge to make rational decisions about how to proceed. There is safety in this awareness because entrepreneur leaders can then seek the advice of experts in these fields and proceed with caution.


Then there are the unknown-unknowns. This is when you do not possess knowledge about an area critical to the company, and you do not recognize your limitations, yet you proceed anyway. In other words, these are the things you do not know, that you do not know.

 Socrates - WisdomThe more I learn, the more I learn how little I know.”  – Socrates

One good way to avoid this pitfall is to always seek counsel and advice from experienced individuals in your field before embarking on what you are wanting to do. Often, because of the need to accomplish many things quickly, we move forward with a limited understanding of the issues, only to find out later there are unforeseen consequences. This can especially be true when planning and preparing for regulatory approvals and clearances for biotechnology and bio-agricultural products.

2. Understand the Language of Business and Science

Scientists are trained to be analytical. They are adept at questioning theories and suppositions. They are great researchers because they are trained to be skeptical of information they don’t understand until reproducible evidence is documented. Also, scientists naturally detect interpretation errors, and most scientists can quickly spot inconsistencies and problems within assumptions. These characteristics are ideal for making new discoveries, but they are ineffective communication tools when speaking to potential investors, business persons, and marketing people about your company’s purpose and mission.

Bioentrepreneur needs to understand the languages of Business and Science both. Usually, they are equipped with technical knowledge about their product or service but no interest in understanding and learning marketing, finance and legal compliance. In such condition, they fail to impress the investor. A good product but no with no market is useless for an investor. A scientist must be able to make investor understand the use of the product in common words.

Confusing jargons - Bioentrepreneurship Guide
Proficiency and skill are required in order to convey precise meaning so the listener understands what is communicated and not confused by the jargon.

3. Leadership Wisdom

Leadership is about motivating people to help you achieve your goals. Leadership depends on several aspects including the cause, followers, and goals. A leader needs to understand the factors that motivate the people. Usually, these factors include the needs and desires of the people.

Wisdom is knowing when to apply a particular piece of knowledge in a particular situation at a particular time.

We can train ourselves to increase our wisdom just as we can train ourselves to gain knowledge. Often learning to increase in wisdom has to do with closing our mouths more often and listening carefully in order to understand the communicated thoughts and ideas of others.

4. Resiliency

Failure is the most common thing that happens in an entrepreneurial setup. Every entrepreneur has to be resilient towards failures and hurdles. A strategic approach is very necessary to achieve the goals of the organization. A resilient bioentrepreneur always several alternates and chooses the best in a certain situation by research, experimentation, and experience.

Thomas Edison - Bioentrepreneur“I have not failed. I have just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

Resilience is the virtue that enables people to move through hardship and become better. No one escapes pain, fear, and suffering. Yet from pain can come wisdom, from fear can come courage, from suffering can come strength — if we have the virtue of resilience.

5. Core Values

Core values are the sum total of the guiding principles upon which we operate and make decisions. Sometimes these core values are clearly defined, and other times these guiding principles are simply understood. The entrepreneurs that have built successful companies have been guided by strong core values.

Core values carry a lot of weight, but unfortunately, often go overlooked after the first 30 days of employment. When embraced properly, core values become part of your day-to-day activities within your company’s walls and beyond. They are a compass for performance and the stories you tell when asked about your business. Make them matter.

6. Creativity

Bioentrepreneurship isn’t just about the technical knowledge and business mindset, a person needs to be creative and innovative. New ideas and concepts breed better companies. it is essential to the success of every biotechnology entrepreneur.

Bioentrepreneurship - Creativity and ImmagniationEiffel Tower was just a grand idea that existed in the mind of two engineers, Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier, many years before the first steel girder was ever set in place. Even after the imagined structure was drawn on paper, Gustiv Eiffel and his two engineers encountered seemingly insurmountable challenges and were faced with many reasons to quit. There was great opposition to the building of the tower as criticism abounded, claiming it would cost too much, the design could not support its weight, and the land where it was to be erected was not solid. However, through creativity and imagination, the founding team was able to overcome all these obstacles, including the public opposition. As a result, the Eiffel Tower is appreciated and has become one of the most recognized structures in the world today. Never underestimate the value of creativity and imagination.

Never underestimate the value of creativity and imagination. Creative and imaginative entrepreneurs can accomplish great things when coupled with having leadership wisdom.

Closing Advice

Entrpreneurs have the vision to see the things which others can’t. Don’t just start a business to make your own company, try to help people by making better treatments available. As a society, this is where we should spend our best energy, use our best people, and focus our best efforts.

The ability to pioneer something, and go places that no one else has ever been, is unique. Almost anyone can do things that are predictable. Remember, most initiatives will fail, but if you have the courage to take things forward and can identify alternatives, you can make your ultimate goal successful. I wish each of you the very best of success in your endeavors!

60 days, 28 revisions and 145 cups of tea I required for this post. Don’t you think I deserve, Share, Feedback and Comment on this Post? 🙂 

19 comments on “Bioentrepreneurship: Beginner’s Guide

    • Haseeb , Direct link to comment

      Thank you for your kind response. Surely I will update content here that assist you in polishing your technopreneurial skills. 🙂

    • Haseeb , Direct link to comment

      Hello Salim,
      Thank you for your kind response. In this guide, I hope you have learnt about the Bioentrepreneurship. Our next guide is about how to start your own company. Stay in touch with us.

    • Haseeb , Direct link to comment

      Hey Khadija,
      This is the first guide of our series about starting a biotech company, I hope this helped you in understanding Bioentrepreneurship. If you have any queries, feel free to ask here any time.

  • Hasnain , Direct link to comment

    This is an interesting development. I am a biotechnologist and this brings hope to me. Pakistan desperately needs a biotechnology industry

    • Haseeb , Direct link to comment

      Thank you Hasnain for your kind remarks,
      Bioentrepreneurship is way through which we can start Biotechnology Industry in Pakistan. I very hopeful that investors will also acknowledge it’s potential.

    • Haseeb , Direct link to comment

      Everything starts from an Idea, Think and do homework about what can you offer to your customers.

  • Saad S. Chaudhry , Direct link to comment

    If it is the series of complete guide then it will gonna be proved the best one. ???

  • Chavali Subrahmanyam , Direct link to comment

    Thanks for the information provided. May I please request you for the information regarding “Diverse abilities of microbes that can be commercialized”

    • Haseeb , Direct link to comment

      Dear Chavali,
      Thank you for your kind remarks. Microbes commercial uses can be found in agriculture such as Bt crops, textile industry such as the production of enzymes, food industry such as baker yeast. Please feel free to ask if you need information on any specific topic.

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