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
As we approach the end of another successful year, I wanted to take a moment to thank our dedicated and immensely supportive community. This unique network of members, clients, and supporters that we’ve built from a wide variety of backgrounds provides us with endless opportunities to learn and improve. Whether you have consulted on or led a project, hired us for an engagement, or provided us with valuable guidance, we are grateful for your participation.
One of the most wonderful aspects of BALSA’s business model is how much value clients derive from our membership, and vice versa. A key metric of success for a consulting group is the number of clients who return for multiple engagements. Over the past quarter, 72% of BALSA’s projects were with repeat clients. This record-breaking rate of client return reflects the real value that our consultants bring to each engagement.
We also carefully consider how to bring the most value to our consultants with each engagement. BALSA has established or reinvigorated long-term relationships with several clients, including Kantar Health, BioGenerator, Viscadia, and The Skandalaris Center. Whether you are interested in learning more about market research, start-up companies, forecasting, or entrepreneurship within academia, there have been and will continue to be many opportunities to explore a variety of ventures.
Additionally, I am proud to announce that BALSA is supporting the stipend, networking events, and travel to research conferences for our first BALSA Scholar, Luis Ruiz. Luis is an undergraduate student at Washington University studying Biomedical Engineering and is part of the MARC uSTAR (Maximizing Access to Research Careers Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research) program. Learn more about Luis here.
As always, continue to stay in touch and look for ways to get involved, whether that be through projects, happy hours, or workshops. Our enthusiastic and engaged membership is what makes BALSA a truly special organization. Have a wonderful holiday season, and cheers to another successful year!
Erica Thomas (Nov 12, 2018)