Headshot of Owain Walsh

Membership organisations – what are they and how can they help?

We are delighted to feature an #EdLifeSciences guest blog from Owain Walsh, Membership Manager at Bionow, a not-for-profit Life Science membership organisation. Owain demystifies membership organisations, and tells us how they can help students explore their career options.

Broadly speaking Owain, what are the benefits of joining a membership organisation?

There are many, but I would highlight access to:

  • Specific career insights and information
  • Networking and building connections to a professional/academic community
  • Vacancy listings – another source to look for opportunities
  • Activities such as events and conferences

Can you tell us about your career journey?

Like many, my journey has not been linear, but science and nature have always fascinated me since a young age. I remember being captivated by Attenborough documentaries wheeled in on the TV, and cheering on the chemistry teacher as they dropped potassium into the water bowl. As a result, I pursued a degree in Biomedical Sciences at The University of Sheffield, hoping to become the next ground-breaking scientist. Whilst my curiosity in science remained, my enthusiasm for working in a laboratory was lacking. I realised that what excited me most about the field were the passionate people in it. A chance conversation with a lecturer led me to pursue an MSc in Science Communication at The University of Sheffield and embark on a career in engaging others in the world of science. This provided me with the skills and confidence to transition into more commercial roles, including science recruitment. For several years, I worked in this field, building successful relationships and helping companies find the right talent to grow and innovate.

I still felt there was more I could do to help the sector, and be involved in bringing about meaningful change. That was when the perfect opportunity presented itself to join Bionow in the summer of 2022.

As a membership organisation, what does Bionow actually do?

I often receive this question, especially as my role for Bionow is centred around raising the profile of our organisation, which involves speaking to new members, frequently. Although I am tempted to jokingly say that we are a secret and exclusive club for scientists, the reality is quite the opposite. Our primary focus is to boost and support the sector our members represent. The more we can connect and assist them in growing, the better. There is nothing secretive about us.

Bionow and the bit with Pizza

So, what is Bionow exactly? It is a not-for-profit organisation; established to support its members by connecting and helping the organisations it represents to collaborate, grow, and innovate. How do we do this? Well, a key part of our approach involves the long list of events we host throughout the calendar year. These events are designed to bring professionals and enthusiasts from academia and industry together. From conferences that tackle the significant challenges facing the community, such as BioInfect, a conference that takes a deep dive into the world of antimicrobial resistance, to looking under the hood of one of the sector’s largest markets in Pharma Manufacturing. We know that networking is key, and placing research from our member organisations and universities in the spotlight can make exciting things happen. We’ve also found the basics of just getting some familiar and passionate people from the sciences together in the shape of Pitching & Pizza or Biotech & Beers can be just the excuse to spark and ignite collaboration. Who knew Pizza could change the world in so many ways!

How can students make the most of the University of Edinburgh’s Premium membership with Bionow?

We know students from our member organisations are an integral part of our community and the continued innovation in this sector. As a student of a valued Premium member, Bionow can help you connect, whether that be with potential employers at our careers fair or being first to hear about placement and other unique opportunities with our member organisations. Not forgetting we have a dedicated jobs page where you can hear about the latest opportunities.

We’re here to help you collaborate and we encourage students to host research at our conferences and welcome opportunities to share your work and discoveries with the community, either through talks or by contributing news to our platform. Maybe you have a business idea that needs help getting off the ground. Again, we’re here to help. We have a track record of helping start-ups secure funding, and assisting business development, marketing and cost-saving activities.

Through my own career journey, I’ve gained valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities facing companies in the life sciences sector and have developed a deep appreciation of the role we can play as a membership organisation in supporting students as they begin their own journey.

If you’re a student with a passion for the life sciences and looking to kickstart your career in this exciting industry, I encourage you to utilise Bionow, and network with like-minded peers.

Here’s how:

As students of the University of Edinburgh, you’re already part of the Bionow community! That’s right – by default, you’re a member. And, the best part? You can easily unlock all the benefits of membership by registering for a free user profile on our website.

Simply visit https://bionow.co.uk/membership/join-bionow  and select the “user registration” option to get started. Once you’ve registered, you’ll gain access to our exclusive delegate area at events, where you can keep track of which events you’ve attended and connect with delegates and even message them directly.

But… that’s not all. As a member of our community, you’ll also receive regular updates on the latest news and trends in biotech. And, with your free user profile, you can even submit news content to share with our wider network. I’m also here to help, so if you have any other ideas or want to connect with any members then don’t hesitate to get in touch via our webpage.

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up today and start taking advantage of all that Bionow has to offer.

Thanks Owain.

You can also explore the varied world of Life Sciences on our website – this includes suggestions for building experience, getting started, and further job vacancy sources.


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