skip to content

Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology


It is important that students develop an appreciation of the bioindustry landscape and forge links with the wider enterprise community. There are many curricular opportunities for students to develop this knowledge and to build their own personal network.

Biotechnology companies in Cambridge, London and further afield are welcoming of the talented and enthusiastic MBE students and are extremely generous in the time their executives devote to mentoring and teaching and to providing projects and supervising their progress.

MBE students are also fortunate in having access to many of the region's premier biotech academic conferences and business networking events through the University of Cambridge and organisations such as One Nucleus. Conferences and company visits enable students to meet senior company executives from the UK and overseas and to learn from their experiences. Some of the opportunities and activities are listed below:

Internship and Dissertation  

Students undertake an internship placement with a company or organisation, conducting research on a project of real interest to the company. The internship provides experience of working in a commercial organisation as well as an opportunity to collect data as the basis for a dissertation. Students may opt, circumstances permitting, to work within multinational companies, start-ups, small to medium sized enterprises or service providers to the biotech sector, such as accounting, legal or IP practices. Normally students spend 4 - 6 weeks with a company and are encouraged to put into practise the lessons learnt from the academic aspects of the programme as well as to demonstrate original research and analysis. The dissertation is an important component of programme assessment and contributes 30% of the total marks.

Consulting Project

Students work in multi-disciplinary teams to fulfill a consulting project brief for a company in the technology sector. This is an important opportunity for students to learn project management and team skills, as well as deliver a professional report to the client. 

Biotechnology Company and Cluster Visits

Boston and Silicon Valley, USA Biotech Clusters (optional, student-led)

In addition to company visits undertaken in the UK, there is an optional opportunity to gain an international perspective of the industry sector during a study tour to the biotech cluster in Boston or Silicon Valley in the USA. Visits to international centres of scientific excellence and biotechnology commercialisation enable students to gain an international perspective of the sector and of the numerous business models in operation, as well as to establish a wide network of academic and business contacts.   During the visit to the US students meet with senior company executives, visit research and development facilities and network with students and leading academics at MIT, Harvard, Stanford and Berkeley.

Additional charges are payable by students who elect to participate in these activities or incur discretionary expenses associated with studying on the programme.

European and Chinese Biotech Clusters (optional, student-led)

Students may also organise their own visit to the a European life science business cluster. Destinations in the past have included Switzerland, China and Medicon Valley, the biocluster that spans the island of Zeeland in eastern Denmark and the Skåne region of southern Sweden. The visit has proved to be an extremely valuable experience for participants. Costs incurred during these visits are additional to University fees.

Enterprise Fellows

Alumni of the Department provide invaluable inspiration, guidance and practical support to the research and business students currently studying in the Department. In his professional life Dr Darrin Disley has recognised the opportunity afforded by scientific advancement and applied his business and leadership skills to build a significant technology company. Despite the demands on his time in his own ventures, he is extremely generous in offering his expertise and time to help the next generation of entrepreneurs studying in the department.