17 May 2016
2015 Menzies Scholar in Engineering, Anna Gould, has played a leading role in bringing together the 100 Leaders of Tomorrow in biotechnology, as part of GapSummit, the world's first global inter-generational leadership summit in biotechnology.
“The GapSummit addresses the biggest gaps in the biotech sector, including human resources, funding and innovation, as well as the gaps in future healthcare and resource demands to which biotechnology may contribute solutions. It is the flagship event of Global Biotech Revolution, a student-led not-for-profit organisation that aims to inspire and support the next generation of leaders to ensure the sustainability and growth of the biotechnology and life sciences sector,” Anna said.
One hundred young leaders from around the world are selected to attend the GapSummit to meet, learn from, and challenge current leaders each year. They also develop and pitch their own solutions to the gaps in biotechnology, with the chance to win support in making their ideas a reality.
Currently studying for her Master of Philosophy in Bioscience Enterprise at Cambridge University, Anna was selected to attend the first ever GapSummit in April 2014 as a Leader of Tomorrow.
“Attending the first GapSummit in 2014 was hugely inspirational, not just because of the broad overview I gained of the biggest challenges we face as a growing global society and the impact biotechnology will have in solving some of these challenges, but also because it showed me the impact and leadership young people can have.
“It confirmed for me that I wanted to move from my background in chemical and process engineering towards a career in biotechnology, and challenged me to begin thinking early about the impact I can have in developing solutions to some of the biggest challenges in biotech,” Anna said.
This year Anna became more involved in GapSummit as the Vice President of the executive committee organising the event, which meant (amongst other things) she delivered the opening and closing speeches encouraging the attendees to take inspiration from the knowledge they gained and the global connections they made and challenging them to take the lead in solving the biggest biotechnology gaps.
“In the Vice President role I have been active in leading various aspects of the organisation of the summit, including securing industry sponsorship, recruiting leading speakers from across the sector, marketing, recruitment, and selection of the 100 Leaders of Tomorrow chosen worldwide to attend the summit.
“I was also very active in forming the creative vision for the event.”
The involvement in GapSummit has been a great career experience for Anna who says she would love to work in a strategic position within the biotech industry. “I see myself ideally starting out by gaining broad experience in a larger pharmaceutical or biotech company, and then moving into a more specialised strategic position in a few years' time.”
Speakers from GapSummit 2016 included Dr Jeremy Levin (Chairman and CEO, Ovid Therapeutics), Sophie Kornowski-Bonnet (Head of Roche Partnering), Dr Peder Holk Nielsen (President and CEO, Novozymes), Professor Sir John Walker (Nobel Laureate), and Li Chen (CEO Hua Medicine).
One of the highlights for Anna was the Research and Innovation Showcase, where leaders in startups and research pitched their work and gave a snapshot of some of the most exciting work going on in biotech at the moment, including next-generation sequencing, reprogramming immune cells to secrete therapeutic proteins, and genetically modified trees for sustainable forestry.
“Other major developments in biotechnology such as the possibility to modify and edit genetic code with CRISPR/Cas9 technology, next-generation biofuels and the recent successes of immuno-oncology drugs were also explored during the GapSummit, as well as industry-wide trends and the biggest challenges yet to be overcome,” Anna said.
Anna said one of the best things about GapSummit is that even though it is conceived by and run by and for young people and students, the quality of the event is on par with other industry conferences and has led to continued growth and expansion of the concept.
Her claim is backed by many of the high profile participants who enjoyed and praised the organising committee for the quality conference. Adina Mangubat, CEO of Spiral Genetics was one of many to provide feedback saying “I really love this event as it is exactly what is needed to inspire and create new collaborations between people. I wish there were more events like it.”
The GapSummit is expanding internationally, and in 2017 will be held in Washington DC, with plans for future events in Latin America and Asia.
If you are interested, take a look at the GapSummit 2016 highlights.