A Day in the Life of a Catalyze Consultant by Rizgar Saltik
3 February 2020
Being a consultant in the life sciences, what does that actually mean?
As a student in neurobiology at the University of Amsterdam, I was told that I did not have many career options after my studies. I would either end up in the lab performing scientific research or I would work “for a company”. I did not know back then what it meant to work for a company, neither did the academics working at the university. Meanwhile, I learned that there are countless career options for anyone with a degree in biomedical science, pharmaceutical science, neuroscience, or other life sciences studies. Being a consultant is one of them.
One year ago, I started as a biotechnology, medical technology and life sciences consultant at Catalyze in Amsterdam. Basically, I help ambitious companies that are developing new drugs or medical technologies to fund their research, development, and commercialization activities. Developing a new cure for a disease or a device to help improve the lives of patients is not an easy thing to do. It requires time, expertise and a lot of funding. As a consultant, I help our clients to receive the well-needed funding by writing and managing subsidy applications for them. Of course, writing and managing subsidy applications can mean different things, so let’s look at my daily tasks that come with this job.
My day as a consultant depends very much on the type of subsidy application that I am working on. Almost all subsidy applications require us to design a plan and define a strategy for the development or commercialization of our clients’ products. While writing these plans, we answer questions such as: What product will be developed? What will be the impact of this product on society? How much revenue will this product generate? How will this impact the local economy? Some of these applications also require us to build partnerships between innovative companies and research institutions. In such a partnership, the aim is to utilize each other’s expertise and knowledge to develop a medical product or solution that cannot be developed if one of these expertises is missing. We call this type of partnership a consortium. In case an application requires a consortium, my daily schedule will be filled with the acquisition, so contacting companies and research organizations and convincing them to join a consortium with our clients. In addition, I will arrange phone calls between partners and ensure that we receive all needed information from every partner joining the consortium. This process is typically challenging, but it is very rewarding at the end when you end up with a subsidy proposal containing a strong plan to develop a cure for a disease that affects millions of people around the globe.
The impact of this job on my personal development is enormous. As I do more and more projects, I learn about different diseases and different strategies to treat them. In addition, I learn to collect important information and manage multiple partners under time pressure. I cannot think of any other job outside of consultancy or entrepreneurship, where you develop yourself on this many fronts and skills at the same time. At Catalyze, we work with some of the top scientists and entrepreneurs of the world and we witness how innovation is shaping and changing our future from a front-row seat. For me, the choice of becoming a consultant was one of the best choices I ever made.