The Hyper Blog

Read the latest news and insights from the world of life science!

HRS Press Releases

View Our Latest News
Biotechnology vs Biomedical Engineering: What’s the Difference?

Biotechnology vs biomedical engineering

If you have a keen interest in science but don’t want to go down the medical degree route, you might be exploring other career options within the field of biology. Biotechnology and biomedical engineering have become increasingly popular options for students who want to learn about engineering in the biological sphere.

While these two degrees sound like they might be quite similar, there are some key differences between biotechnology and biomedical engineering that you should consider before you start applying for university courses.


Biotechnology focuses on the use of a wide range of biological processes to advance technology and solve a variety of problems. People who work in biotechnology harness living organisms, biological systems and processes to achieve a particular outcome.

A biotechnology engineer might work on…

  • Creating new antibiotics to treat infections
  • Developing new types of biofuel
  • Testing the efficacy of new drugs
  • Studying how biological systems can be used in other industries

Biotechnology engineers can specialise in a variety of different fields - so whether you’re interested in marine biology, medicine, agriculture, plants or the environment, you’re sure to find a career in biotechnology incredibly interesting!


Biomedical engineering

Biomedical engineering is all about finding solutions to specific medical problems. Recent years have been a testament to how rapidly the world of medicine needs to advance in order to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of viruses and disease.

Biomedical engineers are at the forefront of this battle, engineering new drugs, treatments and medical devices to give people a better quality of life. Here are some of the things a biomedical engineer might specialise in:

  • Finding ways to heal damaged organs
  • Creating innovative drugs and treatments
  • Developing new prosthetics
  • Analysing new diseases and viruses

This is a great field to get into if you want to focus on developing new approaches to health challenges and making people better!


What are they key differences?

So what are the key differences between these two fields? There are a few differences to consider if you’re trying to decide whether to study biotechnology or biomedical engineering.

  • Biotechnology is concerned with life science and creates products that can be used within the agricultural, food and medical industries. Biomedical engineering is concerned with the medical industry and finding solutions to problems affecting human health.

  • Biotechnology is an applied biological science that uses chemistry to create new biological products. Biomedical engineering draws on engineering principles but applies them to medicine.

  • Biotechnology harnesses predominantly organic systems and biology to create solutions to problems. Biomedical engineering does this as well, but also uses inorganic materials to advance medical technology.

  • Biomedical engineering looks to diagnose, manage, treat, prevent and mitigate the impact of disease or disability on the general population. Biotechnology has a broader application and can tackle anything from genetic modifications, waste disposal, environmental impacts and more.


Will the content of these university courses be different?

Absolutely. If you choose to study either biotechnology or biomedical engineering at university, you will find that the course content differs quite significantly.

Biotechnology courses will have a much stronger focus on molecular biology and its applications in the real world, while biomedical engineering courses will focus heavily on areas such as physiology, medicine, neurology, haematology and more.

The right course for you will depend on your interests and the career path you’d like to take once you’ve graduated. To help you get an idea of what types of careers you can go into, we’ve listed a few potential career paths for each industry below.

What does a career in biotechnology look like?

Working in biotechnology will almost certainly involve working in a lab. You’ll spend a large portion of your time conducting experiments, researching new products and developing / testing things you’ve created. Some industries you could find yourself working in include:

  • Agriculture
  • Food production
  • Biofuels / bioenergy
  • Virology
  • Healthcare


What does a career in biomedical engineering look like?

Biomedical engineering jobs can involve working in a lab, but can also involve working in different departments within a hospital and up-close with patients. This career path may be more suitable for someone who wants to work face-to-face with the general public, rather than behind closed doors in a lab. Here are a few other places you might work if you pursue a career in biomedical engineering:

  • Universities
  • Orthopaedic manufacturers
  • Biomaterial firms
  • Research organization

If you’ve been wondering what the differences between biotechnology and biomedical engineering are, we hope this has shed some light on the subject for you. Here at HRS, we specialise in helping graduates and professionals to find their dream careers in a wide range of science industries including biotechnology and biomedical engineering. Get in touch to find out more!

Contact HRS Now >