talent-docAs part of European Biotech Week, the BIA has launched a directory of mentoring and training schemes available to help UK biotech companies build their next generation of leadership and management talent.

The BIA’s Vision for the UK life sciences in 2025 sets out ambitious goals for the sector to hit if it is to achieve the overall vision of becoming the world’s third largest biotech cluster – similar in size and scale to Greater Boston today.

One of the goals that the Vision sets out is to have 10 times more management talent as this will enable the sector to grow and succeed both now and in the future.

The UK biotech ecosystem has a strong foundation on which to build new biotech management talent and parts of this ecosystem are already working well. There is some depth in venture capitalist-backed companies in the South with repeat entrepreneurs. There have also been specialist skills from Pharma coming into the sector through the restructuring of research and development organisations.

However, the sector faces critical challenges in securing bright, skilled staff with entrepreneurial flair and leadership élan. Two thirds of BIA members who took part in a survey with the ScaleUp Institute at the end of last year said that they needed more management talent. These skills are critical for successful biotech given the complexity of the development cycle and its funding needs. Deep functional expertise is not enough. UK bioscience needs leaders who combine a depth of related skills and expertise in a single field, with the ability to collaborate across disciplines with experts in other areas and general management skills. Some of this talent exists today, and some is world class, but the UK needs an order of magnitude to build the cluster.

In drug development alone, the BIA estimates that the UK needs at least 130 extra clinical stage management teams and will need yet more talent in other health innovation and support service sectors. That talent needs to be more ambitious, multi-skilled and to have the right leadership behaviours to drive growth and global success.

“However much the industry has grown and matured in the last half dozen years, the pool of proven leaders is nowhere near large enough to meet demand. Each acquisition of an innovative biopharma firm may put another set of executives on the street, but they will immediately receive multiple job offers. The number of companies in the industry is growing much faster than the number of talented people.” Catalyst Advisors 2016 Review and Outlook

What is the BIA doing to tackle the issue?

“Employers need to shift from being talent takers to skill creators. Employers should shift from searching for the employee with the perfect combination of specific skills and experience to creating jobs and businesses that incorporate both formal training, apprenticeships, mentoring models, and active development with on-the job training through assignments and experiences.” Reframing the Talent Agenda: The shift, the race and the riddle

The aim of this directory is to support UK bioscience companies in building the management talent they need and is aimed at people who are already working in UK bioscience or just starting out in the industry. BIA members took part in research with the ScaleUp Institute and the results showed that two thirds of respondents were interested to grow their own management talent and more than half were interested in mentoring and professional support.

This publication aims to support these BIA members and the wider sector to grow the next generation of management talent by showcasing the range of training and mentoring opportunities that are already working to upskill the biotech leaders of the future. The schemes have been put forward by BIA members as they have helped them and their teams to increase their management capabilities.

The opportunities in the directory are aimed at all levels of experience. From getting your first business off the ground, through to honing and developing your existing management skills.

In a world where knowledge doubles every year and skills have a half-life of 2.5 to 5 years, leaders need constant development. This ongoing need to develop leaders is also driven by the changing expectations of the workforce and the evolving challenges businesses are facing, including two major themes underlying this year’s trends: globalisation and the speed and extent of technological change and innovation.

This is a living document and the team will aim to update it in 2017, so if there are schemes you feel would benefit the BIA’s wider membership then let us know.

The BIA will be continuing its work on the talent agenda at the UK Bioscience Forum on October 20th, where there will be a session supported by the BIA’s People Advisory Committee: The next generation of talent – from boardroom to bench. Click here to book your place at the UK Bioscience Forum.