PhD mentoring taking science to industry

Twelve PhD students from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute have connected with industry leaders through the Industry mentoring network in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (IMNIS) program.

The mentoring program links PhD students with experienced industry mentors who provide advice and act as role models for industry-based careers. The program aims to develop a new generation of industry-aware PhD graduates.

The IMNIS program was recently awarded the Best Higher Education and Training Collaboration 2016 at the Business/Higher Education Round Table national awards in recognition of how the program is bridging the university-industry gap.

The IMNIS program at Monash University is championed by Associate Professor Priscilla Johanesen, Project Officer for the Doctoral Training Programs in Monash's Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.

Associate Professor Johanesen said she was delighted to see the IMNIS program recognised by such a high calibre award.

“This award acknowledges the value of the IMNIS mentoring program to our students and industry mentors,” Associate Professor Johanesen said.

“The feedback we’ve had is that the program in invaluable to the students, particularly for networking opportunities and expanding their options outside academia.”

The IMNIS program is supported at Monash by Professor John Carroll, Director of the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, and by Professor Ross Coppel, Deputy Dean and Director of Research of the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.

IMNIS Principal Professor Paul Wood said it was critical for PhD students to develop skills outside their discipline, as only 10 per cent of graduates find long term academic positions.

“By developing a new generation of PhD students who have a better understanding of industry and the skills it values we hope to create a more innovation-focused culture within the biosciences community,” Professor Wood said.

The Biomedicine Discovery Institute PhD students took part in a pilot of the IMNIS program last year, which focused on biotechnology, with students from Monash University, the University of Melbourne, RMIT, and La Trobe University participating. AusBiotech coordinated the industry component.

Last month Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Greg Hunt announced a grant of $200,000 over two years from the MTPConnect Project Fund Program to extend the IMNIS scheme. This funding will expand the Victorian IMNIS pilot in biotechnology to all states in collaboration with AusBiotech.

IMNIS is supported by the Australian Academy of Technological Science and Engineering.

The Business/Higher Education Round Table award was jointly made to the Australian Academy of Technological Science and Engineering, IMNIS and their partnering organisations that include: AusBiotech, Mentorloop, Monash University, La Trobe University, The University of Melbourne, RMIT, University of South Australia, Flinders University, The University of Adelaide, TechIn/BioSA, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University, and the University of Western Australia.