In today’s guest blog, BIA member, Hays Life Sciences, take a look at the growth of life science start-ups and their impact on the industry.
The life sciences industry is one of the most dynamic in the world, with growth and change occurring in every sector of the industry. The pressure of an ageing population combined with advances in technology and evolving business and medical models makes it fertile territory for new business start-ups.
There has been a recent increase in high profile companies not previously associated with the life sciences sector turning their attention towards investment in the industry, the most notable of which is Google. As a result, life sciences candidates may find their next career move coming from an unexpected source.
‘Big money’ is finding its way into the life sciences sector
Bill Maris from Google Ventures, the venture capital arm of Google, talking to Bloomberg in an interview earlier this year said:
“We’re interested in investing in companies that are helping people to live longer and healthier lives… We’ve put 36% of our capital into life science companies and the goal is to help people not die from diseases – not die from congestive heart failure or cancer or the sorts of things that affect life span.”
This move is part of a much broader trend. In the last three years, Atlas Ventures have been a source of biotech start-up capital, launching 20 new companies covering a range of different indications and therapies. In April this year it announced a $280 million fund focused on seeding and nurturing biotech start-ups.
While venture capital is a well-established principle in America and Asia – an estimated 10% of Singapore’s venture capital funds support the life sciences industry – this is less the case in Europe, where many academic start-ups rely on government grants for initial funding. Other investment models include private capital and equity crowdfunding.
Life sciences don’t just need money
If finding the money is half the battle, then finding the talent makes up the other half. But no matter where the money comes from, without the necessary human capital, start-up success will be limited.
In a recent Viewpoint interview, Riley Doyle, CEO and Technical Lead at Desktop Genetics, a rapidly growing biotech software company based in London, spoke to us about the challenge faced by many new life science start-ups:
“Finding the right candidate is definitely a challenge. In fact it has become so much of a challenge that we’re considering creating our own formal learning and development programmes.”
He went on to say that Desktop Genetics is already implementing learning and development programmes on an informal basis, in an effort to bridge the gap between job descriptions and presenting candidate skills.
Should candidates sit tight or consider working for a start-up?
Start-up entrepreneurs are typically set the task of finding highly qualified STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics) candidates, who are also proficient in the management of large data sets and possess excellent business and interpersonal skills.
Such broad requirements, along with the fast pace and many client-facing activities which constitute start-up culture, may make working for traditional pharmaceutical companies seem like a better fit for some.
This is not necessarily so. While it may be true that pharmaceutical companies can offer a more generalised experience and opportunities for internal movement, as the start-up sector continues to expand, expect to see an increase in convergence of workplace experience between the two.