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EU AI Act: A Practical Guide for Life Sciences & Digital Health Companies to Thrive

The EU AI Act is rapidly moving towards becoming law, and its impact on the life sciences and digital health sectors will be profound. As outlined in the Orrick Insights article, it represents a major step in regulating AI applications, particularly in sensitive sectors like healthcare. This legislation is crucial for life sciences and digital health companies, making it essential to understand its implications for recruitment and talent management.

Section 1: Key takeaways from the EU AI Act

Overview of the EU AI Act: 

If the EU AI Act becomes law it aims to ensure the safe, transparent, and accountable use of AI within the European Union. It focuses on regulating high-risk AI systems, particularly those used in healthcare.

Impact on life sciences: 

The Act includes specific provisions for life sciences and digital health, such as:

  • High-risk AI systems: The AI Act places strict requirements on the development and deployment of high-risk AI systems. These requirements include rigorous testing and validation processes to ensure that these systems are safe, reliable, and function as intended. Companies must also implement continuous monitoring mechanisms to detect and mitigate any potential issues that could arise during the system's operational lifecycle.
  • Transparency obligations: Companies must provide clear, accessible, and comprehensive information about how their AI systems operate. This includes explaining the system's decision-making processes, the data used for training, and the potential impacts on users. The goal is to build trust and allow stakeholders to understand and scrutinise AI-driven decisions.

Governance Considerations:

  • Data Rights and Confidentiality: Companies must ensure they have obtained rights for data used to train AI models and adhere to confidentiality obligations.
  • Diverse and Reliable Data Sets: It’s crucial to rely on diverse and reliable data sets, especially for high-risk applications like clinical trials. This ensures the AI systems' decisions are well-founded and unbiased.
  • Human Oversight: Even as AI automates processes, human oversight remains essential to mitigate risks and address ethical concerns. Companies should implement internal governance systems to oversee AI deployment effectively.

To address competitive concerns, companies might consider sandboxing and firewalling data sets or running data through pre-trained models, ensuring sensitive data is not used to train overall AI models.

Next Steps:

Assess AI Systems: Companies should evaluate their AI systems to determine if they fall under the AI Act's scope. This involves mapping AI systems, understanding their functionality, and identifying their risk categories.
Clarify Roles: It’s important to define the organisation’s role (provider, deployer, etc.) for each AI system, as the Act imposes varying obligations based on these roles.
Classify AI Systems: Organisations must classify their AI systems under the Act’s risk categories, preparing a detailed compliance roadmap accordingly. This includes updating contracts and due diligence processes to anticipate AI Act requirements.

By integrating these governance practices and leveraging regulatory sandboxes, life sciences and digital health companies can ensure compliance while fostering innovation and maintaining public trust.

Section 2: Impact on recruitment and talent needs

Emerging roles: 

The regulatory environment will create demand for new roles, including AI compliance officers, data protection specialists, and AI system auditors. These professionals will be essential for ensuring that companies adhere to the new regulations and maintain the integrity of their AI systems.

Skillset adjustments: 

There will be a shift in the required skill sets, necessitating professionals who understand both AI technology and its legal and ethical implications in healthcare. This interdisciplinary knowledge is crucial for developing and deploying AI systems that comply with the Act’s requirements and enhance patient care.

Section 3: Strategic recruitment approaches

Adapting recruitment strategies: 

Life sciences companies should revamp their recruitment strategies to attract professionals with interdisciplinary expertise in AI and regulatory compliance. For instance, they could create targeted recruitment campaigns highlighting the importance of these skills and the opportunities within their organisations. Partnering with educational institutions to develop specialised training programmes can also be an effective way to cultivate a pipeline of qualified candidates.

Building a compliant workforce: 

Training existing employees on AI compliance and ethics is crucial. Implementing continuous education and certification programmes on AI compliance and ethics can ensure that teams remain proficient in both technological and regulatory domains. Workshops, seminars, and online courses can be effective methods to keep staff updated on the latest regulatory changes and best practices.

Section 4: Long-term implications for the sector

Industry readiness: 

The readiness of the life sciences sector to comply with the AI Act varies. Companies must conduct readiness assessments and implement comprehensive compliance strategies to navigate challenges. This involves evaluating current AI systems, identifying gaps in compliance, and developing plans to address these gaps.

Future trends: 

The AI Act could drive innovations in healthcare. Potential trends include enhanced patient care through advanced AI applications and an increased focus on ethical AI development. For example, AI could be used to personalise treatment plans based on individual patient data, improving outcomes and efficiency. However, achieving these advancements will require careful navigation of regulatory requirements to ensure compliance and maintain public trust.


With the EU AI Act set to reshape the regulatory landscape, immediate and proactive adaptation is crucial for compliance and to maintain a competitive edge in the biotech industry. Companies should begin preparations now and consider seeking expert guidance to navigate this complex transition effectively.

Panda stands ready as your strategic partner, not only to help life sciences companies understand and adjust to these new regulations but also to ensure you have the right talent to succeed in this evolving environment. For a deeper understanding of the EU AI Act's implications and to learn how Panda can assist in recruiting a compliant and skilled workforce, we encourage you to visit Orrick Insights or contact Panda directly today. Let us help you stay at the forefront of the rapidly changing regulatory and technological landscape.

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