Program Overview

Fostering Innovation in Biotechnology Certificate Program

If you have questions or would like more details, please contact our office at 312-503-0714.

Biotechnology is a fast-growing sector of the U.S. economy. As the industry expands, the need for well-trained, competent biotechnology leaders are in high demand. Leaders who will succeed in this new economy must have the skills to effectively navigate the increasingly complex and diverse biotech industry.

The global biotechnology industry is facing a critical skills gap:

  • Scientific education has not adapted its curricula to align with the skills employers need
  • Scientists can be disconnected with business needs, problem-solving, and cross-discipline training
  • Life sciences students are unaware of the industry’s multiple career pathways and opportunities
  • Diversity in cultural background and international training is required to succeed in a global industry
Hubs of biotechnology excellence, (such as the Illinois Silicon Prairie, MATTER, and the Illinois Science + Technology Park) flourish when they combine the two factors necessary for growth: robust research, and the ability to convert that research into commercial activity. This program seeks to prepare students for that conversion with courses on the global industry, the commercialization process, leadership skills, and innovation strategies.

The Global Industry
Across the globe, the biotech industry generates close to $90 billion annually and employs more than 170,000 people. Currently the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia dominate the industry, however Brazil, Russia, India and China are predicted to change the face of the industry in the next decade.
Employees in this global industry can expect to face changes in their organizational culture as their work transitions from an R&D focus to commercialization. This transition requires new skill sets that traditional scientists may be unprepared for. Operating successfully within the high-risk, high-reward biotech environment requires strong technical and scientific skills as much as well-developed leadership qualities.
Employer-valued skills
This certificate is one of the only programs to combine training in both biotechnology commercialization and organizational development. This combination addresses the well-documented need from growing biotech companies, which often run lean, to ensure that their workforce is trained with the necessary combination of scientific and business skills for a successful career in the industry, whether in a big pharma or biotech startup setting.

Program Goals

Upon completion of the Fostering Innovation in Biotechnology certificate program, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the bio-technology commercialization process and be able to apply knowledge to predict the impact of various economic, clinical, legal and regulatory hurdles.
  • Examine the role of organizational dynamics, structure and culture on strategic alliance, partnerships and the technology development process.
  • Compare the varying definitions of innovation within the biotechnology industry, and assess where each should be applied and to what benefit.
  • Explain personal and organizational leadership lifecycles, as well as identify their personal leadership style.
  • Describe how to align technical progress with business strategy, and articulate the scientific and non-scientific drivers for success.

Who Should Attend

The Fostering Innovation in Biotechnology certificate program is for early to mid-career professionals working in industry who plan to move into leadership roles within the R&D organization and would like to gain a holistic view of the biotechnology industry and the drivers for success.

  • Scientists, technicians and engineers will develop skills to move toward leadership roles
  • Sales and marketing staff will acquire a broader knowledge of the business and how the technology commercialization process works
  • Human Resources professionals will be better able to identify, hire and cultivate talent.
  • Start-up entrepreneurs and/or investors will learn tools to build their own companies from start-up to scale, or will learn what signs point to good investments
  • Advanced graduate students and post-docs will get a leg up to get into industry and build their network with the help of our industry-based adjunct faculty

Though a participant may still be in a technical role, the program’s courses will build on his or her natural interest in leading an organization. Courses will combine case study analysis, group projects, guest lectures and interviews with industry experts to demonstrate the necessary talent and technological skills required to support commercial success. With an understanding of academic and commercial-based mindsets, students will be well poised to assume leadership roles within biotechnology organizations.

Choose the path to differentiate yourself as a biotech leader with a certificate from Northwestern University.

Program Structure

Each course will meet for a three-day executive education style in-person experience, combining group discussions, lectures, and case studies. These in-person meetings will be richly supplemented by videos, discussions, readings and interaction online.

Recommended Path

To get the most out of the Fostering Innovation in Biotechnology program, students are encouraged to take the courses listed in the order below, but they may also take only specific courses that pique their interest.

Certificate Requirements

Students must complete all four core courses to earn a Fostering Innovation in Biotechnology certificate from Northwestern University.


C. Zoe Hoeppner, PhD — Program Adviser

C. Zoe Hoeppner, PhD, is program adviser for fostering innovation in biotechnology and assistant director for external relations and lecturer for the MS in biotechnology at the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern. As the resident biologist in a team of chemical engineers, and a previous entrepreneur, her curricular engagements include hands-on laboratories in cellular and molecular biology, biotechnology commercialization and new product development courses, topics in professional development, and critical thinking in experimental biotechnology. In addition, Hoeppner is responsible for building relationships with national and international biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies for the purpose of educational partnerships, such as course lectures, internships, and student mentorship. As part of her role she coaches students in the interpersonal skills and competentcies to be successful in biotechnology.

Hoeppner has been involved with the creation of two independent start-ups in addition to her work in academia. She has a passion for sustainable talent and technology development in the life sciences. She earned her BS in biological sciences from the University of Tulsa, and her PhD in pharmacology from the University of Illinois College of Medicine, where she identified non-canonical G Protein Coupled Receptor Signaling pathways leading to activation of the immune system.

Michael S. Rosen — Faculty for The Global Biotechnology Enterprise

Michael S. Rosen is managing director of Rosen Bioscience Strategies, an economic development consultancy enabling international life science companies to enter the U.S. market, and U.S. life science companies to expand outside the U.S. During his forty years in the life science industry, he has held senior management positions at several multinational and publicly traded companies including: senior vice president, new business development for Forest City Enterprises’ Science + Technology Group, a NYSE-traded REIT which builds and runs science parks in the U.S. working with key research universities (Northwestern, Johns Hopkins and MIT); for which he brought multiple life science companies from Europe and Asia into these parks.

Rosen has held management positions with Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Monsanto/Searle, while living in Latin America, Japan and Europe, and worked extensively in Asia, Canada and Europe. He has also been President/CEO of a number of U.S. and European biotech and medical device companies. He is a founder, former vice chairman and current board member of the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization (IBIO) and is a member of the board and senior vice president of the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce – Chicago, co-chairing its Life Science Practice Group. Rosen has been a long-time member of the Industry Advisory Board for Northwestern University’s Masters of Biotechnology Program, as well as professor of international management and marketing at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He received his BA in sociology and international relations from Beloit College and an MBA in international business from the University of Miami.

Jeff Boesiger — Faculty for Biotechnology Commercialization

Jeff Boesiger is a biotechnology executive with experience in manufacturing, strategy, engineering and program management. He is currently the director of operations, strategy and planning at Baxalta. His responsibilities include providing the strategic direction and long term planning for the manufacturing network as well operations program management for pipeline products. He previously worked in both strategic and technical consulting serving both large and small bio-pharmaceutical companies. Boesiger began his career in manufacturing at Amgen and also served as engineering manager at Nektar Therapeutics. He earned his MBA from the University of Notre Dame and holds a bachelor of science in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan. He served as chairman of the Industrial Advisory Board for Northwestern University’s master of biotechnology program.

Laurie Wessels — Faculty for Leadership in the Biotechnology Enterprise

Laurie Wessels is a leadership coach, consultant and trainer. She works with executives, teams and emerging leaders, blending strategic planning and decision making, and leadership behaviors to enhance organizational effectiveness and sustainable leadership. For 30 years Wessels has been sharing her expertise in sales, marketing, and leader development to develop results producing leaders and high impact teams at all organizational levels. During her 15 years in the pharmaceutical industry, she created and provided leadership to top performing sales and marketing teams. As president of the Wessels Group, she has consulted and coached with healthcare, financial and engineering industry organizations to cultivate executive and senior leaders for improved strategic organizational effectiveness.

Wessels is a certified executive coach, certified results coach, certified teacher of movement psychology, and founding member of the International Consortium of Coaches Organization. She is a Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association board member and an adjunct professor in the MBA program at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and Northwestern University.

Ashish Basuray — Faculty for Innovation Strategies in Biotechnology

Ashish Basuray currently manages the service delivery division of PreScouter’s business. He has managed over 600+ innovation projects with PreScouter's 200+ clients. During his tenure at PreScouter, Basuray was an invited lecturer to 3M's commercialization chapter, where he presented "Accelerated Serendipity — Increasing the Efficiency of Innovation & External Partnership." In addition, he has hosted live audience and webinar events on emergent technologies such as "Nine Disruptors that will change the world by 2025."  A majority of his external lectures focus on best practices for innovation, methods for identifying disruptive technologies, and maximizing external partnerships. 

Previously, Basuray worked as a management consultant at BearingPoint Inc., as well as having served in Nepal with the US Peace Corps. He earned his BS in chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University and his PhD in organic chemistry from Northwestern University, focusing his research on designing nanoscale architectures, molecular electronics, molecular memory and organic solar materials. He published 14 peer-reviewed scientific articles and published two patents while at Northwestern University. In addition, Ashish applies his research to entrepreneurial and philanthropic engagements, including his project to bring fresh water to developing nations, that won Grand Prize in Dow's Sustainability Innovation Challenge in 2012.

Core Courses:

  • BIO_TECH 400-0 The Global Biotech Enterprise
  • BIO_TECH 401-1 Biotech Commercialization
  • BIO_TECH 402-1 Leadership
  • BIO_TECH 403-1 Innovation Strategies