The biotech sector has always been at the forefront of biopharma innovation, with biotech companies being responsible for an estimated 70% of clinical trials globally.
With interest in biotech products only growing, biotech companies are only continuing to grow their opportunities in Europe, which accounts for over 20% of the total global pharma market.
The pandemic has only brought the innovative medical solutions of biotech to the forefront, culminating in 2020 being one of the most successful years for life sciences, and with it, more opportunities for research, product approval, and funding.
However, new opportunities have brought increased challenges for biotech companies. From the changes in the working environment to the rise in global competition, biotech companies face a number of barriers to their growth.
What challenges and pain points are biotech companies facing, and how can you overcome them?
New ways of working
66.7% of European respondents to a biopharma survey experienced changes to their working schedule to be able to socially distance while working, and 59% of respondents worked remotely.
This has been a positive for the biotech sector in many ways, as it has displayed the sector’s ability to audit sites from different locations and still retain the ability to collaborate effectively even in a remote capacity.
However, the challenge facing the sector is that the new ways of working can pose difficulties when it comes to the ability to collaborate in a way that is as effective as face-to-face, and also the necessity for skills and knowledge around the technologies that allow remote working to be possible.
For hiring managers, the obvious solution is targeting candidates with skill sets around virtual technology and, perhaps most importantly, those with strong soft skills relating to people management.
Effective communication is not only essential for collaboration during remote working, which is likely to continue being a part of the way biotech companies operate but is also vital towards ensuring changing regulations and operating procedures are communicated effectively also.
Innovating during a period of change requires strong leadership skills, which is something that hiring managers should consider when sourcing candidates.
Rising global competition
Such rapid and significant growth has seen biotech become a vastly competitive global market.
After all, European biotech startups raised €4.1 billion of investment in 2020 alone – a record-breaking amount, up 24% compared to 2019.
The key role that biotech companies have played during the pandemic resulted in record-high investment, which as a result, has continued to attract investor attention across European biotech companies.
Even though Brexit looms large over the UK’s biotech investment outlook, the UK remains part of the third-largest bio-cluster and is unlikely to be hit significantly in terms of investment due to Brexit.
Though the growth of the sector is positive, biotech companies in Europe still have to contend with difficulties that their counterparts in China and the US don’t when it comes to regulatory laws.
Candidates that can demonstrate an understanding of legal regulations, preferably combined with interpersonal skills, are likely to be a huge determining factor in how European life sciences companies place in the global market.
Digital transformation is somewhat of a double-edged sword for biotech companies, being a factor behind the rapid growth and innovation of the sector, whilst also causing biotech companies to struggle to keep up with the latest technology.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Process Analytical Technology (PAT) are both being incorporated by biotech companies into their practices with increasing frequency, for example, which creates a larger push for other companies to do so in order to remain competitive.
Remaining on top of such a rapidly shifting digital landscape could prove difficult without the right talent to guide it.
Skills in engineering, data analytics and process development should therefore be high on the agenda for hiring managers looking to keep their company dynamic and competitive.
In a digital age, finding candidates with transferable digital skills could prove extremely beneficial for hiring managers.
Supply chain and manufacturing vulnerabilities
51.3% of the European biopharma companies revealed that operations to their organisation were impacted as a result of supply chain disruptions, specifically that of materials or equipment.
The global disruption to the pharmaceutical supply chain due to the pandemic has prompted a discussion around the potential for companies to onshore their API supply.
As many consider localising their supply chains to avoid further disruptions in the future, many biotech companies will be faced with the decision as to whether they should follow.
Making supply chains more resilient requires hiring managers to search for skills from a technology and operational perspective – this overlaps considerably with digital transformation given that supporting a more agile supply chain rests on the use of technology.
Digital security is also a key element in the sector’s efforts to tackle supply and manufacturing vulnerabilities, making IT skills even more prominent on the list of in-demand skills that employees and potential candidates can utilise to help biotech companies tackle this issue.
The supply chain is the backbone of biopharma companies, which makes it a key area of note for biotech companies looking to minimise potential disruptions in the future.
Biotech companies are experiencing high investment and global attention as a result of the sector’s role in the pandemic.
With this renewed focus comes a host of challenges that biotech companies must face in order to continue innovating.
Global competition is on the rise, making the necessity for a strongly skilled workforce even greater not only to combat rising competition but also to tackle issues around digital transformation, new ways of working and supply chain vulnerabilities.
All require strong soft skills around communication and leadership, and hard skills in data analytics and engineering – hiring managers are well placed to reduce the impact of the challenges facing the sector by finding talent that covers these bases.
Expert advice can provide a strong foundation for your biotech company to thrive on and meet its objectives.
Get in touch with the Panda team today to get a competitive edge in the war for talent.