It’s been a record-breaking year for life sciences, with the effects of the pandemic still informing the shifts of the industry at large.
From changes around supply chains to technological innovation to recruitment challenges, 2021 has seen significant changes for life sciences that are only going to continue evolving.
Whilst looking at the trends and changes of 2021, we’re also looking towards 2022 and what it will bring.
What happened in life sciences this year, and which trends can we expect to see in 2022?
Supply chain management
After issues around supply chain shortages in 2020, there was a necessity for life sciences organisations to reconsider their supply chain, particularly cross-border reliance.
What was previously considered to be a resilient supply chain had to be re-evaluated, leading many life sciences organisations to avoid dependency on a single region.
Local reinvestment has been on the rise as a result of this, though generally, there is a greater emphasis on modernising chronic supply chain challenges in more proactive ways by balancing the need for agility with the demands of the design process.
Ethical supply chains have also been a topic of note.
Though North America and Western Europe have had reliable cold chain networks to support biotherapeutics distribution for decades, there is now an expectation that other parts of the world may adopt such practices gradually.
More data-centric supply chains are expected to take prominence, with the use of technology such as AI, analytics, and innovative surveillance techniques to identify issues in real-time and provide the necessary insights to rectify them.
Using technology to provide meaningful insights will assist in determining demand and addressing potential shortages – something that life sciences organisations are looking to address effectively as a result of the pandemic.
The production of vaccines for Covid-19 encouraged regulatory bodies, private-sector drug developers, and funding agencies to foster a more open, collaborative approach.
The speed at which commercially approved vaccines became available may have sounded like an impossible task previously, yet it has now set a precedent for how the life sciences industry operates moving forward.
After all, now that life sciences organisations have seen how efficiently they can operate under such pressure, it would seem counterproductive to move back towards a lengthier process.
For example, the development of the University of Oxford – AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine was a collaboration that combined to cover the cost, expertise, and resources required to move the vaccine to a global vaccination programme quickly.
In the biotech sector where technology is advancing at a rapid pace, collaboration makes good business sense as a way to stay innovative and informed.
Collaboration is likely to take on a more international element, as the importance of sharing best practice on a more global scale becomes a priority.
Companies of all sizes will be tempted to look at markets outside of the UK, though even as the UK moves into a more standalone role, it will continue to play a key role in international collaborations.
Undoubtedly, there will need to be more discussions around intellectual property and the sharing of data as collaborations continue to evolve in life sciences.
Accelerated digital transformation
According to Deloitte, it’s believed that the pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of the pharma sector by several years.
Medtech and pharma are areas of note given the increased uptake of digital health tools, point of care systems, digital pharmacy setups, and other forms of digital access to healthcare.
77% of companies are significantly accelerating their digital transformations, with holistic and enterprise digital transformation being key areas for leadership.
A move towards hybrid working has also contributed to accelerated digital transformation, leading to a more flexible, virtual workforce that requires the digital ability to keep up with the changing workforce.
Rather than just embracing the digital, life sciences are likely to adopt a more holistic approach to digital transformation – an approach that is connected, scalable – that is focused across the business model.
This means more insight-driven analytics that can accelerate decision-making across organisations, creating an intelligent workflow that enhances agility.
The war for talent
Both the war for talent and the ‘Great Resignation’ have been hot topics across industries in 2021.
The life sciences sector has been contending with the complications of finding talent to match the high demand for a while, yet 2021 has seen the competition for top talent become even fiercer.
As many professionals re-evaluate their current career paths, life sciences organisations have had to adapt their process for recruitment in order to widen the talent pool that is accessible.
For many organisations, this has meant focusing on incentives outside of traditional compensation, which has led to an emphasis on CSR, work/life balance, flexible working, and the ‘greater good’ effect.
Our recent blog on how STEM skills are perfect for a career in life sciences also touches upon how transferable skills are now in high demand.
Greater emphasis is likely to be put on transferable skills than a traditional academic background, as many professionals seek career opportunities outside of their previous occupational background.
As a result of this, life sciences organisations will likely adapt their recruitment processes to highlight benefits outside of salary to attract candidates due to such high global competition.
With the increase in remote working, there is a higher number of potential candidates for vacancies, yet this also means that global competition is high – hiring managers in life sciences organisations need to keep this in mind.
The shockwaves of 2020 have continued to develop into fast-growing trends for 2021, with digital transformation and supply chain management continuing to be high on the agenda as they evolve during the industry’s period of recovery.
Given that 2021 has seen so many processes become more efficient and rapid, it can be expected that as the dust settles, 2022 will be the year in which these newer processes settle to a more regular pace.
The war for talent continues to be an area of note for life sciences organisations that requires a change in approach to make the most of the Great Resignation, in particular, the necessity for transferable skills.
What are your predictions for life sciences in 2022?
For further information on trends in the Life Science sector in 2022 and beyond, get in touch with the Panda team today.