Contributor: Markayle Tolliver
World Business Chicago salutes #WomensHistoryMonth by highlighting entrepreneurs and founders in the Life Sciences and Healthcare, one of Chicago’s fastest growing sectors experiencing tremendous innovation through tech. Today, we highlight Nina Dudnik, the Chief Business Officer at BioLabs, a membership based network of shared lab and office facilities throughout the US located in key biotech innovation clusters. As the Chief Business Officer, she oversees BioLabs’ business development, sponsorship, and partner management functions to drive expansion in the US and internationally.
Nina shares how she was introduced to life sciences and healthcare innovation —
“It was a school assignment in the eighth grade that sparked my interest in life science innovation. The Chicago Tribune was running a four-part series on genetic engineering, and I decided then and there that I was going to study genetics to feed the growing global population. After undergrad, I worked for international agricultural development nonprofits, including in a laboratory in West Africa. I went on to found a company that worked with universities around the world to strengthen scientific training and infrastructure. What continues to drive me is the intersection of life sciences, innovation, and social impact, as well as ensuring that talented scientists wherever they are in the world, have access to the resources to make their ambitions reality.”
Nina’s insights on the model that BioLabs was built on —
“BioLabs creates coworking spaces to meet four needs of life science entrepreneurs. We provide affordable lab and office space, as little as one bench rentable month-to-month, in fully-equipped labs; services ranging from lab permitting and safety to procurement; a community of peers to share ideas and mutual support; and a broad network of pharmaceutical partners, life science equipment manufacturers, investors, and others who can support and advise entrepreneurs.”
Nina gives advice to women starting their careers in life sciences —
“Some of the most important skills to succeed, especially for women, are not scientific or technical. One is how you carry and present yourself. So often we are socialized not to talk about our accomplishments, not to take credit robustly for our work. Science reinforces this; so often scientists say “the work speaks for itself.” It is critical to be able to speak for your work. Other skills include networking, managing people, and securing funding, whether through grant writing, pitching investors, or otherwise. All of these are skills you can find opportunities to learn starting as an undergraduate, and throughout both your education and early career. But they are not always an obvious part of your core work; you have to seek them out, volunteer, and make the time.”
For more information about Nina and/or BioLabs, please visit https://www.biolabs.io/.