Are you experiencing a talent crisis? Here’s how you should recruit and retain employees during the ‘Biotech Boom’ 

September 13, 2022

With the Biotech industry growing rapidly across the globe in recent years, so much so that it has even been coined the ‘Biotech Boom’, new roles are opening up left, right and centre. And although this speedy growth is welcome news for the entire industry, it doesn’t come without its challenges.

As more and more money is invested into the industry (with the global biotech market value expected to rise to around $727.1 billion by 2025), we’re left with an abundance of Biotech companies but a huge shortage of skilled employees to work in them. As a result, it looks like the sector could be experiencing a true talent crisis.

But why is this happening, and what can your company do to ensure you’re recruiting (and retaining) the best talent in the Biotech industry today?

What is the Biotech Boom?

The biotech boom emerged between 2019-2020 when the biotech industry saw substantial growth in fundraising from VCs and deals such as partnerships, co-developments, joint ventures and IPOs. In 2020, venture-capital funding increased by 45%, deals increased by 84% and IPOs increased by a staggering 186%, all in the space of one year.

Impact of the Covid pandemic

The Covid-19 certainly played a large part in the biotech boom as researchers and companies rushed to develop treatments, diagnostics and vaccines for the virus. These innovations were needed urgently on a global level which caused demand for these companies’ products to skyrocket.

This also led to an increase in public and private funding in the biotech industry, providing companies with the resources to be able to accelerate the development and commercialisation process of new treatments and technologies. 

How long will the biotech boom last?

The fundamentals for the biotech boom to persist into the near future remain present according to Bach, a board member of multiple successful biotech companies, who stated “the fundamentals for growth in biotech remain strong and grow stronger: ageing population, prevalence of chronic conditions, increasing demand of best-class healthcare in both developed and developing countries.”

“And, in the midst of all that, pharma’s best solution for its chronic crisis in R&D productivity remains external research, which fuels the biotech industry and the finance of innovation”

However, he also remarked “all those are here to stay. But, of course, the classical challenges remain, [such as] who is going to pay for all this, and how, as GDP percentage devoted to healthcare keeps increasing? The answers will be important drivers shaping the innovation of tomorrow,” Bach continues.

As it stands, it appears that the biotech boom has every chance to persevere for years to come. Yet despite this, biotechnology companies are still struggling when it comes to recruitment.

Why are Biotechnology companies finding it so hard to hire?

Simply put, it’s because there’s so much competition from other companies. As we know, the biotech industry is growing, even more so thanks to the pandemic, which highlighted all sorts of promising advancements in drug discovery and development.

This means that now more than ever Biotech companies are eager to bring in advanced, skillful employees to continue these impressive developments, but these skilled individuals can prove very tricky to find.

Niche Job Roles

Every Biotech company has its own specialisms within the field, meaning that they typically have an incredibly niche job description when looking for new recruits. Essentially, these companies are looking for a specialist, a total expert in what they do – something that’s hard to come by in such a competitive market.

Competition from other Industries

And if that wasn’t enough, not only are Biotechnology companies in competition with one another for talent, but they’ve also got competition from general technology companies.

As the industry grows and more advanced tech is adopted into the everyday workplace, such as artificial intelligence, the level of technological skill required from a new recruit is sky-high. As a result, you’re in direct competition in your search for talent with not just the Biotech industry, but with tech giants like Apple and Google too.

Investment and Funding

Smaller biotech companies don’t receive the same level of investment and funding that the larger, more well-established companies get, which means they have limited resources to work with when it comes to recruitment.

The very best talent in the industry will demand a high salary in accordance to their skills and experience which smaller companies might struggle to match. In this scenario, the smaller biotech companies miss out on top talent due to a lack of sufficient funding, making recruiting a team of skilled, experienced employees a difficult challenge.

Smaller companies will also be in the early stages of development and won’t have the same track record of success as the well-established companies. Candidates who are looking for stability in their job can be put off working for smaller biotech companies due to the uncertainty and risk of the business failing, which ultimately would cause them to lose their job.

Tedious Hiring Processes

Finally, even if you do manage to find the perfect candidate, your hiring process could turn them away. Typically, the Biotech industry is known for its lengthy, laborious hiring process, so long in fact that employers can miss out on their ideal employee as they’ve been snapped up elsewhere.

Currently, prospective candidates have the upper hand in the entire recruitment process. Therefore, it’s important for your company to try and level out the playing field and tackle the intense competition.

How you can recruit and retain the best of the best in Biotech


In the highly competitive biotech market where you’re looking for top-tier, expert candidates, you need to provide them with reasons to want to work for you. Good incentives, flexibility, opportunities for remote working and a worthwhile salary are all important considerations to make if you want to recruit the level of skill you desire.

Company culture

Define your company’s mission and purpose so you can nurture a positive company culture. Nobody wants to work somewhere that doesn’t reflect their own values and preferred ways of working. In such a competitive market, it’s not all about you wanting them; they need to want you.

At the end of the day, incentives and rewards can only go so far, as a candidate is always bound to choose the place that’s the best fit for them. This is why it’s critical not to be indecisive during the hiring process, otherwise your candidate will be snapped up elsewhere and then it’s too late. An awkward, lengthy hiring process will be seen as synonymous for what life in your workplace will be like.

Make sure to create an environment that people want to work in, as employees that are comfortable in their workplace are much more likely to stick around. This involves opening up the floor for feedback, so your employees know you’re listening and actioning any necessary changes that’ll make your workplace a better place to be.

And with the skyrocketing biotech market, employers must look towards a diverse workforce and do everything possible to eradicate unconscious bias. In similar industries like Biopharma, studies reveal that 9 out of 10 CEOs are men. Even this one figure shows the importance of looking towards a shift in mindset, so we can build a future where the world of healthcare, pharmaceuticals and life sciences reflects everyone.

Get a helping hand

Sometimes, a little help can go a long way. By outsourcing your recruitment requirements, you could speed up your talent acquisition tenfold, so that you can get to work driving forward the world of Biotech and drug development.

Here at Avery Fairbank, our expertise in this sector is unparalleled. With years and years of experience in the field of Biotech executive search, we work on your behalf to build your perfect team of skilled professionals.

Upholding strong commitments to diversity objectives, we use our state-of-the-art talent acquisition technology and leverage our fully-developed global network of talented specialists and leaders to bring you the best in the business. A personal and professional service, we’ll work with you to find the exact people your company needs.

Our mission is to be a key player in Biotechnology recruitment, so that we can help drive the sector forward and ensure any potential candidates’ first impressions of your company are always positive.

Overall, the future of Biotechnology and life sciences is bright. But without the right talent, any company will be unable to shine.
Cells Under a Microscope

Published on 13-09-2022