A Crossing Between Enterprise and Biotechnology

By José E. Torres

The director of the Economic Development Center, Dr. José Vega Torres, and the coordinator of the biotechnology department, Dr. Carlos Ríos Velázquez, presented a seminar this Tuesday, September 25. The seminar was presented in the Eugene Francis Hall of the Physics building at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus (UPRM).

The seminar, was about a problem that biologists face; after graduation they don’t have where or how to practice what they have studied. However, the enterprise faculty has created an Economic Development Department that in association with Custom-Designed Immunologics (CDI) laboratories and Puerto Rico Technoeconomic Corridor (PRTEC) gives undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to make a difference.

Two important guests participated in this seminar: Mrs. Alissa Albino, director of research and development for CDI Laboratories, a biotechnology company that delivers products and services founded on whole human proteome microarray technology, and Mr. Nelson Perea, executive director for PRTEC, a non-profit organization committed to the development of a collaborative environment between private companies, government entities and universities.

CDI operates Bioprocesses Development and Training Center for emerging operations

Albino said that “most of the students in our facilities are students from the UPRM, and we are impressed by how well prepared these students are.” She encouraged new students to participate on different programs that the university has to offer, like internships and co-op plans, to Albino “hands on experience, prepares a student to face tough situations.”

Vega has a great commitment to his department and the crossing with biotechnology to take the technology from the laboratories to the market. By preparing project proposals or economic development studies such as strategies, feasibility, market, or economic impact. Vega`s goal is to promote economic development, job creation and investment in the private sector.

Vega searches for companies that can sponsor the new findings developed on laboratories like CDI or innovative ideas presented and developed by PRTEC. This way local companies of the private or public sector can give opportunities to these talented students to make a healthier world by finding cures for different infections and bacteria’s.

The biotechnology department, Dr. Carlos Ríos Velázquez works with seminars like Applied Biotechnology (ABTech) where the faculty, industry and the government will have the opportunity to present initiatives and projects of impact in an effective and constructive environment. Dr. Ríos encourages students to participate on seminars that could help them do their best on their laboratory exams and to demonstrate their abilities so when real life challenges are presented they can face them.

Perea`s main goal in the company is to innovate and develop new enterprises on the western area by helping improve ideas that students present. In PRTEC they created programs like “vtec,” whose objective is to commercialize new technologies created by universities to increase opportunities of investigation between the academic communities and the industry, and to provide employment opportunities to both graduate and undergraduate students.

On the seminar one of the questions presented to the board was “In this time that the economy is bad and when students graduate there are no job opportunities for them, are there opportunities for students that are beginning or have not yet finished their studies?” by Melissa Céspedes a first year biotechnology student.

The answer given by them was affirmative; there are multiple opportunities given by different organizations similar to PRTEC and CDI and in-campus programs; however, it is up to each student`s motivation and enthusiasm.

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