Our mission is threefold: (1) to provide data-driven consulting solutions to promote sustained growth of emerging technologies and scalable business, (2) to provide hands-on experience in the business of science and technology, focusing on the developing of transferable knowledge and skills for post-graduate professionals, and (3) to support, expand, and shape entrepreneurship and innovation in the St. Louis region and beyond.
The Biotechnology and Life Science Advising Group (BALSA) is a nonprofit organization founded in December 2010 by a group of biomedical PhD candidates and postdoctoral fellows from Washington University School of Medicine (WashU) in St. Louis, MO. The goal of the group is to supplement academic training by providing real-world experience in the science of business and development of transferable professional skills to better prepare members for both academic and non-academic career paths. BALSA further aims to offer a bridge between academia and industry, fostering collaborations between local universities and companies, to strengthen the young and vibrant startup community in St. Louis.
Number of Active Members
Our consultants comprise of members from WashU, Saint Louis University,and the St. Louis professional community.
Since its inception, BALSA has grown to encompass approximately 100 active members from WashU, Saint Louis University (SLU), and the St. Louis professional community. Consultants come from a myriad of backgrounds including cell biology, neuroscience, immunology, microbiology, genetics and genomics, cancer biology, plant biology, chemistry, engineering, business and law. While members enter with little experience in professional consulting, BALSA harnesses the analytical power of graduate students and postdocs by teaching them to apply the systematic, critical thinking approach of the scientific method to business problems to generate innovative, data-driven solutions for clients. Consultants learn the market research skills necessary to deliver these recommendations through teamwork and peer-to-peer mentoring with experienced project managers and advisors.
Since 2011, BALSA has engaged with more than 132 independent clients, ranging from startups, universities, mid-large size companies, and other organizations. We have provided consulting services to companies across 11 US states as well as a few international institutions. BALSA teams have completed more than 210 projects on a wide variety of topics including market research, technology development, competitor analysis, business plan development, and consumer facing materials.
Words from the President
The BALSA Group entered the summer months with several challenging and exciting goals: to expand the professional development opportunities for our membership and refresh our engagement with the St. Louis community. We are proud to have leveraged our unique position within the academic and professional spaces to make great strides towards achieving key milestones.
Our goal of providing and facilitating professional development opportunities for our membership was fulfilled in several ways. First, BALSA hosted a four-part professional development workshop series. Throughout this series, attendees learned to hone their skills in important areas, including networking, slide design, business writing, and communication. Thank you to everyone who helped to make these workshops a success. Second, we increased the number of career-focused announcements in our “Events and Opportunities” emails, highlighting internships, job openings, and career development events. Keep an eye out for opportunities that might be of interest to you!
The BALSA Group’s externally facing initiative of refreshing our engagement with the community began with a complete update of our website, spearheaded by our Director of Operations, Kyaw Thu Minn. Information for both potential consultants as well as clients has been updated and can be viewed on the new website. Additionally, we have strengthened our working relationships with key members of the local entrepreneurial community, including BioGenerator and The Skandalaris Center. We are very excited to share in the success of these organizations.
As the academic year begins, be on the lookout for ways to stay engaged, including project opportunities, events, and happy hours. We hope to see you all soon!
Erica Thomas (08/10/2018)