From stickers to spacecraft parts: students discover the diversity of the Bio Science Park
On Friday 30 November 2018 more than 70 students became acquainted with the large range of companies that Leiden Bio Science Park has to offer. In addition to the companies with eye-catching façade names along the cycling route to the faculty, like CHDR, BaseClear and Astellas, there is much more to discover! The fourth edition of the Bio Science Park Excursion, organised by Stichting Bètabanenmarkt, was again a success.
In the buildings of the Biopartner Center at the Leiden Bio Science Park, there are a lot of start-up companies and small businesses. To inform the students about working at a small company, during the morning programme several alumni told about their company and what it means to work there. Physicist Gertjan van Baarle set up the spin-off Leiden Probe Microscopy during his work as a post-doc at the university. More than 10 years later, his company still exists and now he is CEO of 10 employees. He described the difference he experienced between doing research for the university and for his company: In research you can follow your own line of research. When you work for clients, you do not have that freedom, Van Baarle told the students. 'You have to stick to the client’s demands, but you get a lot more freedom in return.'
Voorbereiden, netwerken en follow-up
Before the lunch, career advisors Tanja Bos and Ilse Huijskens gave a crash course in effective networking. Why are the students participating in this excursion at the Bio Science Park? What do they want to achieve? To get that clear, the students first had to introduce themselves in pairs and explain why they are here. Later in the day , they would be able to use this introduction during the company visits and the networking drinks. 'After the introduction and asking a question, a conversation usually flows automatically', explains Bos. It is also important to follow up after meeting someone. This can, for example, be done via Linkedin: 'If you make a connection with the person you spoke with, you create an extra moment that the person remembers you.'
This year, students were again able to choose between three tracks for the afternoon company visits. A new addition to the list was Avery Dennison: the giant behind many labels and adhesive films with 30,000 employees in 50 countries. During the visit Btissame Zaouit, participant of the Graduate programme at Avery Dennison, showed which materials the company manufactures: labels for shower and bath products, car wraps, foils for medicine strips and more. After this, the students were taken to the labs, where the products are extensively tested for adhesion, composition and more. In view of all these products, one of the students asked about the level of sustainability at Avery Dennison. 'It is not a sustainable industry', the honest answer came, 'but we are working hard at reducing the amount of material used and at recycling. We also have 'Sustainable September' every year, during which employees think up and execute sustainable ideas for the office.'
Solar panels for in space
A seemingly unlikely company in the Leiden Bio Science Park is Airbus Defense and Space Netherlands, the largest aerospace company in the Netherlands. During the visit aerospace engineer Daniel Hendrix enthusiastically explained to the students which products his company produces pointing to the high-quality solar panel on the wall. 'Nothing of ours has ever broken down in space,' Hendrix unveiled proudly. Airbus does not only employ aerospace engineers, mathematicians and physicists are also desperately needed to deliver the high-quality products for use in space. How to get a job at Airbus? The big tip is to do an internship there first, because former interns have an advantage over other job applicants.
After the visits to the companies, the students came together again in Biopartner 1 where they could put their acquired networking skills into practice at the networking drink. Not only the guides of the company visits were present, also other people working at the Bio Science Park came to network with the students.
During the day, the diversity of the companies that reside in close vicinity to the science faculty has become very clear to the students. LST master student Mees Fox: 'I now realise that there is a lot more to Bio Science Park than I thought.'