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What Does Lockdown Lifting Mean for the Future of Life Sciences?

14 June 2021

By Jay Freeman

What Does Lockdown Lifting Mean for the Future of Life Sciences?

As is the case across industries, as we move out of lockdown, the life sciences sector will have to adjust to the effects of the pandemic, whilst also considering what the future holds.

Given that the industry had a responsibility to help the world in the response to the pandemic, the way that Covid-19 and the lifting of lockdown will affect the sector will be quite unique. 

We’ve previously discussed the impact of investments, diversity and inclusion, in-demand skills, and sustainability – all of which are extremely relevant to the future of the life sciences sector.

Additionally, the shifting and changing of roles and their demand is a key factor in how the life sciences will evolve post-lockdown.

What does lockdown lifting mean for the future of life sciences?


The anticipated impact

In a report by Deloitte, it is predicted that manufacturing and supply chain disruptions, and increased use of digital technologies, will be areas of significant impact.

This is important, as it can predict demand in the job market in terms of roles and skills, whilst also pinpointing areas of change.

With supply chains, for example, life sciences will be moving towards more robust supply sources as a response to shortages.

This means that many life sciences organisations will have to diversify their ingredient supplies, and gain a deeper understanding of their supply chain weaknesses in order to ‘bounce back’.

The demand for data analysis skills is also likely to be high in the wake of lockdowns being lifted, as data analytics and automation are set to have a large role in virtual clinical trials.

Digitalisation is also expected to play a large role, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Research and Development (R&D), continuing the importance of recruiting those who are proficient in digital areas.

The impact of investment

Venture Capital Funding (VCF) over the first quarter of 2021 has seen £1 billion raised in the life sciences sector, after record-high levels of investment in nearly every subsector during 2020.

This growth is, in part, due to vaccination efforts. However, there is also the European real estate boom that has seen a significant level of growth in European and UK life sciences real estate – investment is set to hit £800 million in 2021.

As lockdown is lifted, an expected rise in the number of institutional investors and landlords can be expected due to the sheer scale of empty commercial space, for which life sciences offers a great solution due to the necessity for further office space.

The number of deals is set to be on a downward trend, though, owing to an increase in larger value deals and a decrease in the number of small deals.

To summarise? The lifting of lockdown is unlikely to have a negative impact on funding and investment in life sciences – after all, in the UK alone there was £20 billion of corporate investment during 2020.

Though the way that life sciences organisations operate may change, investments will continue to be high due to continual innovation, and the necessity of the industry at large as we continue to adapt to the pandemic.

Signs from the biotech IPO market are positive, with almost no slow down since last year, which is great for investor confidence.

Meeting demand with specific job roles and skills

As mentioned above, digitalisation is likely to influence the most in-demand skills and jobs in life sciences.

With the pre-pandemic trajectory of life sciences technology already having been quite considerable, the uptake of technology to operate during the pandemic has accelerated the digitalisation of the sector even more.

Specialised engineering skills are likely to be a key feature, including skills such as: artificial intelligence, bioinformatics, automation, process integration and CAD design.

Furthermore, McKinsey predicts that the slow pace of the virtualisation of trials pre-Covid has now accelerated considerably and will continue to do so throughout the recovery phase, meaning that a more holistic approach is to be expected4.

There is also the expectation that the move to digital channels as a means to build resilience within the sector is extending at a pace previously not thought possible, making a proficiency with virtual tools a valuable asset for any candidate currently seeking employment in the life sciences sector.

Diversity and inclusion

Though diversity and inclusion may still be, by all accounts, in the burgeoning stages in larger organisations (with smaller, pre-revenue organisations having made more progress with representation), it’s set to be higher on the agenda as we move out of lockdown.

In a study from Biotechnology Innovation Organisation, responding companies reported that 80% of their employees and 73% of their leaders demonstrate a commitment to creating an inclusive environment. 

Diversity and inclusion play a key role in attracting candidates at a time when the war for talent is likely to place even higher demand on recruitment processes – getting it right is essential.

As mentioned in our blog post on why diversity and inclusion is important for life sciences companies, the demand for highly skilled candidates is outpacing the supply, meaning that it’s essential for life sciences organisations to attract talent – which an emphasis on diversity and inclusion can help with.

When it comes to accessing a larger, highly skilled talent pool, diversity and inclusion is the way forward for the life sciences sector during its recovery period after lockdown.

Conclusion

Given that the life sciences sector responded swiftly and collaboratively to the pandemic throughout lockdown, it’s no surprise why the predicted changes as a result of lockdown seem to relate to innovation primarily.

With a higher uptake of new technology and adaptive approaches, the skills that are in demand and the job roles that evolve to meet the changes will undoubtedly be rooted in technological advancements and digitalisation, all with a larger talent pool as diversity and inclusion strategies take root.

For life sciences organisations, though it might be a trying time, the sector has shown high resilience and an ability to innovate like no other.

If you’d like help finding in-demand candidates for your organisation, get in touch with the Panda team today for expert help.


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