The Biochemical Society aims to be representative of the UK biochemistry community. In order for us to do this, it’s vital that our membership and practices reflect the make-up and needs of the community. This involves ensuring that disadvantaged groups don’t face barriers to participation and that we offer provisions for biochemists working in as many different job sectors as possible.
Biochemists working in the UK are found in a number of sectors; in academia, industry, charities and the public sector to name but a few.
In order to increase our engagement with the industrial biochemistry community, the Society has introduced a new industry initiative. This will enable us to be more representative of biochemists working in the UK science sector.
In order to do this, we’ve convened an industry sub-committee of the policy committee to investigate how we can support and champion this community.
One of the first tasks of the committee was to define what we mean by ‘industry’. The group came up with 8 areas where biochemists in industry are found in the UK:
• Drug discovery
• Consumer goods
• Food formulation
• Service providers
• Diagnostics industry
• Clinical biochemistry
Drug discovery encompasses everything from the pharmaceutical industry and small molecule drug synthesis, biopharma and biologics development to contract research organisations and contract manufacturing organisations. The agrochemical industry includes the development of biofuels and fertilisers while consumer goods includes those working for large companies such as Unilever and Proctor and Gamble. Service providers involves both equipment manufacturers and consumables manufacturers. Clinical biochemistry is somewhat different to the others as training and job roles are tied into the NHS.
Currently around 7% of the Biochemical Society membership work in industry. Of this, around 80% are based in the UK and the majority work in the drug discovery sector. Correspondingly, much of our current industry work focuses on this sector including our work as part of the Drug Discovery Pathways Group with the British Pharmacological Society, Royal Society of Chemistry and Society of Biology.
As well as growing our individual member base, the Society is also investigating a potential corporate partners scheme to work with companies in the industrial sector. We’ve so far completed a research phase where we asked a wide range of companies what they would look for in such a scheme. We also consulted with other societies who operate such partnerships. We’ll be looking at taking this work forward later next year.
For now, the Society is focusing on growing our individual industrial member base. We want to find out how we can best act to support and champion this community. To this end, we’re holding a focus group on Friday 6 February. We’d like to hear from the industrial biochemistry community what member benefits they would appreciate and how we can best serve their needs. We’d like to hear from people working in a range of roles across a range of companies (both large multinationals and SMEs), particularly in the drug discovery, diagnostics and agrochemical industries.
If you’d like to participate in the Biochemical Society’s industry focus group, or would like any further information about our industry work in general, please contact our Policy Advisor Cat Ball (firstname.lastname@example.org).