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Your Guide to Easily Overcoming Biotech Challenges

25 October 2021

By Jay Freeman

Your Guide to Easily Overcoming Biotech Challenges

The past few years have been prosperous for biotech, which has been a continued trend even throughout the pandemic.

2020 gave biotech the opportunity to display its innovation and value to the world, putting a spotlight on the sector at large.

Between January 2020 and January 2021, the average share price for European and US biotechs increased at more than twice the rate of the S&P 500.

The appeal of the resilience and innovation of biotech has seen continued double-digit annual growth in fundraising from VCs and other deals such as joint ventures, and a triple-digit growth in IPOs – the question now is, is the growth sustainable?

Now more than ever, biotech companies face challenges that could diminish their growth and success.

Read on to find out which challenges face your organisation, and how to overcome them.

The war for talent

With such accelerated growth comes a necessity for highly skilled candidates, with growth projections for biotech indicating that the necessity to acquire such candidates will increase.

McKinsey estimates that macro trends driving shifts in the skills needed by the workforce could result in as many as 90,000 jobs disappearing due to automation, whilst a different set of 90,000 to 120,000 jobs may be created.

Though this may sound like scaremongering around the threat of automation, in actuality, it points towards a larger trend – the demand for manual and physical labour is reducing, whilst the demand for socioemotional and technological skills is increasing.

This high level of competition isn’t just between biotech companies. The tech industry has been a longstanding source of competition for biotech when it comes to hiring the best candidates. 

Filling skills gaps has proven difficult in the life sciences sector, but the solution is a re-imagining of what skills your biotech company truly requires to innovate – e.g., rather than specific technical skills, prioritising soft skills such as problem-solving and leadership skills.

Searching for candidates with transferable skills, rather than relying solely on those with a traditional academic background in biotech or life sciences, can go a long way in widening the pool of talent you have available. 

Skills from leadership to data analytics can be cultivated in other sectors and refined within a biotech role – an investment in candidates with potential is likely to yield better and more consistent results than coming up empty-handed due to global competition.

Unlike established large enterprises, smaller companies and startups need to be attuned with the needs of the talent pool and what they are looking for, whilst also being more adaptable in their hiring approach.

The payoff for having more sensitivity towards the recruitment process cannot be understated.


Global competition

A driver of growth and also a challenge to it, rising global competition has been a factor in the war for talent and brings a host of other challenges to biotech companies.

Rising global competition has meant leading European nations with strong biotech sectors, such as the UK and Germany, have had to invest heavily in regenerative medicine (RM) to seek competitive advantage.

Additional issues include limited venture capital finance, a fragmented patent system, and weak relations between academia and industry – all exacerbated by the pandemic.

Adjusting to market trends can prove difficult for biotech companies, which is why investing in talent is a more secure and accessible method to gain competitive advantage.

Attracting the best candidates, as mentioned above, can prove difficult. Yet focusing on attracting them by transitioning to an agile company can make space for highly skilled candidates to fill skills gaps.

Part of this transition may include continuing the use of the hybrid working models seen in the pandemic, utilising in-person and remote working methods, or remote-only options, to widen the talent pool and also create a wide network of potential future employees for your company.

Geographically broadening your network and being strategic about the individuals you source can act as a strong buffer to rising global competition, as the workforce is evolving in an adaptable direction – the biotech companies that keep this in mind will be better placed to continue innovating regardless of circumstance.


Increased ‘greater good’ effect

As the life sciences industry moves towards greater sustainability efforts and diversity and inclusion rises higher on the agenda, biotech businesses face the challenges of becoming more socially responsible.

Diversity and inclusion have been a strong talking point for the life sciences sector. In our blog on the importance of D&I for life sciences companies, we discuss how two-thirds of active and passive job seekers say a diverse workforce is essential when evaluating job offers – something extremely pertinent to organisations looking to attract candidates.

Employees want to be a part of an organisation that they feel is contributing towards D&I and other social issues, as it gives their work a purpose and is driven by a passion for the greater good.

According to Harvard Business Review, a strong approach to social issues can mitigate risks, enhance reputation, and contribute to business results – though these should not be the sole purpose behind focusing on such issues.

Engaging in valuable projects can reduce employee turnover by 50%, whilst also helping to increase employee morale and positive brand perception.

By investing time and resources into the ‘greater good’ effect, biotech businesses can benefit from attracting and retaining talent – top talent can also assist with putting social issues on the agenda and into practice.

In this regard, it is beneficial to employers as it can attract candidates and because candidates can increase the visibility and implementation of such initiatives from within the company.


Digitalisation

The use and development of cutting-edge technology has been a catalyst for growth in biotech.

The challenge facing biotech businesses as a result, however, is their ability to adapt and stay up-to-date with the latest technology.

An emerging trend in biotech is the use of artificial intelligence (AI), used with increasing frequency and also acting as a competitive advantage – if the right people are acquired to guide it.

AI, machine learning and data analytics are all assisting advance screening and disease detection efforts, which means that finding those that can assist towards the utilisation of AI and data is essential.

Statistics skills are also another up-and-coming trend with biotech, with statistics and mathematics-based roles increasing in biotech.


To summarise

Rapid growth has seen biotech flourishing, yet with this growth comes challenges such as global competition, digitalisation, and a need to win the war for talent.

Securing top talent for your biotech business by focusing on sourcing transferable and in-demand skills (e.g., data analytics) can give you a competitive edge and transform the way your company operates.

Let us help you to secure in-demand candidates for your fast-growing biotech company so that you can have a competitive edge in the war for talent.

Get in touch with the Panda team today.

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