BAM take it up a notch with Maine BioScience Day

The Bioscience Association of Maine (BAM) has been a Maine Science Festival partner since 2015. BAM is dedicated to promoting the work of their members in the bioscience field. The MSF recently caught up with BAM after their first ever Maine BioScience Day, and we wanted to share what we learned.

MSF: What is the Bioscience Association of Maine? How long have you been around?

BAM: The Bioscience Association of Maine (BAM) is the industry group devoted to accelerating the life science, biotech, and medical device industry in Maine. BAM is the lead organization for the bioscience community in the state, representing Maine’s largest employers, emerging start-ups, universities, research institutions, service companies, students, and individuals. You can find even more information about BAM on their website

MSF: Is bioscience a growing part of Maine industry? Can you name some Maine companies that are leaders in their field?

BAM: Yes, absolutely. There are more than 220 bioscience businesses in Maine, including large for profit companies like Idexx Laboratories and Alere; innovative research institutes, like Jackson Labs, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and MDI Biological Laboratory; and highly specialized medical device manufacturers, such as Artel or The Baker Company and a number of start ups and small to mid sized businesses.

MSF: You recently held a BioScience Day at middle schools in Maine. Can you please describe what that was?

BAM: Bioscience Association of Maine (BAM) organized an event, Maine BioScience Day, to inspire young people to pursue a career in one of Maine’s numerous science-based companies. On November 9th, scientists, researchers, and employees from many different Maine life science companies visited twelve middle schools in Southern Maine to talk about their jobs, show students what their companies do, and raise awareness of the incredible career opportunities this sector offers to Maine students in their proverbial back yards. An estimated 1,750 students participated in the event.

As the industry organization for the Maine bioscience industry, BAM recognized the need to grow the pool of highly sought after STEM graduates in Maine. Life science industry jobs are often highly technical and specialized, and finding highly skilled individuals for these positions can be challenging. Conversely, many talented students from Maine may be lost from our labor pool due to an inaccurate perception of job opportunities in Maine.

MSF: Are you planning on expanding beyond those twelve schools?

BAM: Yes, we are planning to hold this event annually and eventually expand to the whole State of Maine. Our intention is to pair the middle schools with companies in their geographical proximity so that students are aware of career opportunities in their own “backyards”.

MSF: If you could share just one piece of information about Maine bioscience with our readers, what would it be?

BAM: Workforce development is a widely discussed topic in Maine. A number of talented young people flee Maine convinced that “there are no jobs in Maine”, while local companies heavily depend on local workforce and are always looking for highly skilled staff. The most important piece of information we could share is that our members have some fantastic, inspiring jobs right here in Maine. And, we felt that talking about it is not enough and decided to actually do something about it. Our goal was to inspire young people to follow a career in science and learn that Maine is home to amazing employers doing groundbreaking research, finding cures for diseases and manufacturing sophisticated equipment.

MSF: Are there other ways you’re working to get the word out about the bioscience opportunities in Maine?

BAM: Yes! BAM is sponsoring 2 one-week-long summer science camps at Maine School of Science and Mathematics. The scholarships are available to one girl and one boy aged 12-14 who attend middle schools participating in Maine BioScience Day 2016 next week. The camp is located in Limestone, Maine and campers will have an opportunity to explore science, mathematics and technology in a fun way, as well as make new friends and experience a unique summer adventure. And, our partnership with organizations like the MSF allows us to continue reaching out to audiences of all ages, and helps remind people that the bioscience industry is thriving in Maine.

MSF: If our readers want more information about BAM or bioscience in Maine, what’s the best way to reach out to you?

BAM: Please feel free to get in touch with Agnieszka Carpenter at agnieszka@mainebioscience.org.

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