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The Biotech Boom: Tips to Recruit Top Talent 

Biotech leaders are in demand as Life Sciences lead the race to solve many of humanity’s challenges. Biotech provides solutions for various needs ranging from agriculture and energy to engineering, pharmaceutics, and medicine. As the pandemic ensues, the need for biotech soars, and with it, demand for experienced talent in an already competitive marketplace increases.  

If your company is searching for leaders who align with business goals, you must understand the industry’s current trends, needs, and dynamics. To help you, we teamed up with IIC Partners to gather recruitment insights from the top executives in biotech across the globe. The following summarizes key areas to help you find and hire your next Life Sciences executive. 

Trends in Biotech

Despite the economic perils of covid-19, biotech is experiencing ongoing growth. The pandemic’s strain on health systems means that technology and top talent will increasingly be sought to lead the sector across industry trends. Recent research found that the share price of US and European biotech doubled the rate of the S&P 500. In addition, Chinese biotech increased 6x the average share price between 2020 – 2021. In response to the biotech boom, organizations seek to attract top candidates for scientific and non-scientific roles.

According to biotech leaders, the future vision of tech in medicine is defined as the 4 Ps: 

  • Personalized
  • Participatory  
  • Preventative  
  • Predictive  

Michele Porreca, Chief People Officer at US-based company Prelude Therapeutics, says one of the hottest biotech markets is oncology—a major field of innovation—and from oncology, we get to personalized medicine. 

For Antti Vuolanto, COO at Herantis Pharma in Finland, a significant trend is a focus on prevention.  When it comes to diseases that affect the nervous system, they said, the current drive is to move away from treating symptoms and into keeping diseases from progressing. The expectation? Over the next decade, many breakthroughs in prevention will put multiple blockbuster drugs on the market. This is the same way immune-oncology drugs have dominated cancer treatment markets for ten years.     

Ida Haisma, Managing Director at the Dutch-based foundation Leiden Bio Science Park, mentions that early start-ups use the model disease to find drugs that alter disease progression. In addition, neuropsychology will be used to uncover the biological mechanisms behind neurological disorders and effects on the brain.  

Recruiting Biotech Leaders 

Biotech is outpacing the skills development of existing talent in the sector. As a result, the skills deficit will only get bigger … especially in the IT sector. Life Sciences ventures (existing and new) compete for the same talent while the pool of expertise still needs to grow. So, to get the best talent, you must recruit locally and abroad, be open to remote work, and recruit leaders based on competencies, not experience. 

Jörg Trinkwalter, CEO of Medical Valley EMN e.V in Germany, explains, “The entire industry is becoming very internationalized, and in some areas, it will not work without international specialists.”  

In addition to locale, the right biotech leaders foster diversity and collaboration and cultivate a culture for diverse teams. Look beyond track records and publications to find competencies necessary to propel your company into the future. Paul Bilars, CEO of NecstGen and Starfish based in the Netherlands, advises, “In a relatively new industry, even five years counts as solid experience. Find someone fit for the job who can work on these types of teams, and their talent will grow.” 

Focus on Competencies

With many startups and more established ventures, biotech require leaders with resilience, learning agility, digital literacy, and flexibility. Competency-based recruitment helps you find candidates from various backgrounds who align with your company’s strategic goals and unique challenges. In addition, competency-based recruitment increases your search pool and, subsequently, diversity on the slate. 

Sylvie Ponchaut, Managing Director of BioWin, the Health Cluster of Wallonia, Belgium, explains, “Those who join [startups] need to be very flexible … Not all experts with experience in big pharma can transpose their skills to a smaller venture, but personality will make the difference.” 

Antti Vuolanto, COO at Herantis Pharma in Finland, states, “It’s also about a balance between experience and the ability to be hands-on. Experience in big pharmaceutical companies can mean a recruit is used to working with healthy budgets, personal assistants, and a large team. Daily life in a small company requires the ability to be hands-on, make decisions with limited knowledge, and tolerate some degree of uncertainty.”   

There is a need for more production-related recruits in biological manufacturing including: 

  • Operators 
  • Technicians 
  • Quality controllers 
  • Infrastructure managers 

Other sought-after profiles include data-related and mixed profiles. These are leaders with expertise in biotech and finance or digital marketing, for example. Recruiting top talent requires future planning and shifting your mindset from speed and budget to getting the right people in the door. Afterwards, you must work hard to engage and retaining them.  

Biotech will continue to grow and expand at an unpredictable rate. But by taking these insights coupled with the knowledge of your company’s needs, you can recruit and retain innovative leaders who will propel your organization forward and make a healthier future for us all. 

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