Diploma in Strategic Growth (Biotech & Pharma)

The UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School

The UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School


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Who should attend

Experienced working professionals in companies whose products require regulatory approval, as well as firms supporting such companies. In particular, the programme is suitable for:

  • Managers and high-potential executives currently working in the life sciences industry and wishing to take on a more strategic role in their organisation;
  • R&D, manufacturing, quality assurance and technical managers who are taking on greater responsibilities and more business-driven roles;
  • Executives requiring better insight into the principles of life science innovation;
  • Managers wanting to anticipate future industry trends and assess their impact on their organisation and professional advancement;
  • Executives aspiring to lead cross-functional or multidisciplinary teams in life science organisations;
  • Those involved in change management who will gain a better understanding of the culture within biotech and pharmaceutical organisations.

About the course

The Diploma in Strategic Growth (Biotech & Pharma) is designed to equip executives in the field of life sciences with the knowledge, skills, tools, techniques and strategic perspective required to effectively analyse and manage complex problems. Led by an esteemed group of academics and experts, the programme reflects the critical belief that companies who succeed in the face of challenges will do so by placing renewed emphasis on innovation.



  • Understand the complexity of the business, market forces, scientific drivers and changing contexts of the life sciences landscape;
  • Analyse the decision-making processes used under high risk (ex. risk aversion in drug regulation);
  • Understand how the industry capitalises on the increasing complexity of the biological sciences and regulations;
  • Understand the impact of high drug prices and potential solutions such as the Health Impact Fund;
  • Gain greater insight into the future of the biotech and pharma industry.


  • Assess the profit prospects and dynamics in the biotech & pharma industry;
  • Identify and critique business level strategies pursued in the industry;
  • Examine and appraise the M&A activity in the industry;
  • Analyse industry structures and business-level strategies in adjacent industries;
  • Develop the appropriate leadership responses to the challenges facing the biotech and pharma industry.


  • Understand the dynamics of new venture creation, development and financing in both new start-up firms and within established firms;
  • Identify the key drivers of value creation in early-stage, science-enabled new ventures;
  • Develop an understanding of the funding life cycle, investment horizon, risk management and exit options in new life science ventures from concept to customer;
  • Gain an understanding of the theoretical foundations in the context of a start-up life science business;
  • Examine the perspectives and focus of venture capital investors evaluating life science investment opportunities.


  • Gain insights into the role of Supply Chain Management in the analysis of business operations;
  • Understand the fundamentals of supply management and supply chain relationships;
  • Assess the strategic impact of technology on value in supply chains;
  • Conduct an analysis to identify opportunities for competitive advantage through supply chain innovation.


  • Understand a theoretical framework enabling structured thinking about leadership in innovative enterprises, its antecedents and its impact;
  • Gain a deeper understanding of the key leadership skills required in the life sciences industry and the challenges it faces in an innovative industry such as biotech & pharma;
  • Deepen insight and knowledge of cross functional expertise where specialist knowledge is key to success;
  • Understand the impact of culture on the success of the innovative enterprise.


  • Gain an understanding of the need for health economic evaluations and health technology assessment for innovative medicines and other health technologies;
  • Understand the key concepts, principles and methods of health economic evaluations;
  • Evaluate the use of Health Economics and Health Technology Assessment (HTA) in pricing and reimbursement decision-making processes;
  • Understand the role of health economic evaluations throughout the lifecycle of a health technology.

Programme Benefits

Participants will:

  • Understand the exceptional nature of the life sciences industry and how it will transform into a fourth industrial revolution;
  • Acquire insight into the linkages between strategy and organisational culture in life science organisations;
  • Gain in-depth knowledge into the dynamics of new venture creation, development, and financing in both new start-up firms and within established firms;
  • Evaluate an organisation’s supply chain and understand the impact of regulatory, technical and market developments and identify opportunities to innovate supply chain solutions;
  • Examine the requirements of leadership in highly innovative life science R&D environments;
  • Gain insight into the latest management thinking on the role of economics and health economic evaluations in biotechnology derived products.

Programme Structure

This programme is delivered over a series of 6 two-day workshops within a 10–month period. Workshops are held on Fridays and Saturdays to minimise interference with busy work schedules. 100% attendance is required.

Assessments and Workload

Participants are assessed on a module-by-module basis through a variety of practical assignments. The emphasis throughout the programme is on the practical application of knowledge to benefit the participant, their team and their organisation.


Lieven Annemans

Lieven Annemans is Full Professor of Health Economics at the medical Faculties of Ghent University and Brussels University (VUB). He is Past President of ISPOR, the International Society for PharmacoEconomics and Outcomes Research, current member of the Flemish Council for Health and Wellbeing (a...

Karan Sonpar

Professor Karan Sonpar joined University College Dublin in 2009. He earned his PhD from the University of Alberta, Canada. He has held prior academic appointments at IE Business School, Spain and University of Manitoba, Canada. He served as Captain in the Indian Army prior to his PhD. His work ha...

Jan Rosier

Professor Rosier holds both a Doctorate in Pharmaceutical Sciences (Ghent University, Belgium) and a Doctorate in Management (Cranfield School of Management, UK). He was a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard University and was awarded a NATO research fellowship for research at MIT, Cambridge. As vice pr...

Eamonn Ambrose

Eamonn holds the position of Associate Professor in the School of Business. He is active in teaching, research and the business development activities. Eamonn's research interests are in the areas of healthcare supply chain management and service process innovation. He is a Board member of the Eu...

Dan Maher

Dan is CEO at Hemanua. Hemanua is an innovation-driven medical & veterinary devices company based in Ireland with global reach. Dan is also CEO at Nua Venture. Nua Venture Innovations Limited understands the dynamics of early-stage technology driven new ventures. Nua Venture is focused on inn...

Brian Harrison

Dr. Brian Harrison is Managing Director at HiTech Health, a consulting and Services company in Healthcare with specific focus on the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology industry. Brian brings to this role extensive technical leadership experience. Brian is currently supporting Science Foundation Ire...

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Diploma in Strategic Growth (Biotech & Pharma) at The UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School

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