By Laura Evans

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the value of our health and that of those we love. As the threat of the coronavirus continues to grow, innovative biotechnology companies are part of global efforts to study the virus and the race to develop vaccines and antivirals.

But even before the pandemic, the biotech industry was already getting increasing attention for its significant growth in recent years. The industry is a major economic driver and with the continuous need for rapid innovation, the demand for skilled professionals in this field will continue to rise, making biotechnology graduates incredibly valuable.

“This is a growing industry with a lot of opportunities, and our graduates find exciting and meaningful work in areas that go far beyond drug development”, said Dr Nisa Omar, Head of the Faculty of Arts & Science at the International University of Malaya Wales (IUMW), Malaysia.

“Career options are wide and varied, including management positions such as policymaking and regulatory positions, industry positions in manufacturing or sales & technical support, or even bioentrepreneuship – lab work is not the only option”.

Owned by two historic universities, the University of Malaya and the University of Wales, UK, IUMW is a university that prides itself on its industry links. Efforts are made to ensure there is contemporary industry input into the curriculum via each programme’s Industry Advisory Panel and connecting students with industry experts and relevant organisations throughout their university journey. IUMW students also conduct their lab research at the University of Malaya, the number one university in Malaysia.

“For a successful career in biotech, students need the opportunity to get hands-on experience to help mimic the work of a real-world company”, Dr Nisa explained. “At IUMW we use industrial training and projects that link students directly to the industry and leading-edge research as some of the added features of our Biotechnology programme – it gives it a practical hands-on approach, which is exactly what students need to get ahead in this field. Students can choose electives paths to specialise in Agriculture and Environment, Food and Industry, or Medical.

Biotechnology has applications in many industries, so graduates can choose to work for a variety of organisations, including government agencies, private companies, regulatory bodies, or clinical laboratories.

A career in biotechnology can save lives, reduce rates of infectious disease, create tools for disease detection, combat serious illnesses, and fundamentally – it can shape our future.