Hays’ James Milligan discusses the growing influence of tech within the pharma, biotech and medical industries and why tech talent is so important.
The life sciences industry has, unsurprisingly, grown exponentially due to the impact of Covid-19. The demand for technology skills has also increased within life sciences to support the industry to keep innovating, tracking and protecting against Covid-19, as well as other diseases and conditions.
These tech skills have been crucial in the development of the vaccines, but have a much bigger part still to play in the testing, monitoring and roll-out of these going forward.
The pandemic has only strengthened the role that technology plays in the life sciences sector, with the need to develop medtech products and support structures capable of handling the growth in the area now of paramount importance. But how specifically can tech professionals be part of this journey?
The growing influence of tech in pharmaceutical hubs
Innovation and progression are just two of the ties that bind the tech and life sciences industries, with both constantly trying to pursue new ways of improving efficiency in processes and the quality of life for end users. It makes sense that there is increasing cooperation between these two specialist areas.
For example, we are seeing more tech-focused innovation hubs developing across Europe with cities like Barcelona, Amsterdam and Warsaw playing home to the next generation of extremely talented tech professionals. Within the life sciences industry, innovators are aware of these hubs and are tapping into these markets for tech professionals with the requisite skills to join a medtech product’s journey from its start.
Now, multinational pharmaceutical companies are also looking to give opportunities to professionals within these tech communities, like Boehringer in Barcelona. These global companies can offer tech professionals roles that are crucial to often life-saving products and systems, opportunities for progression and development, and packages that other industries would struggle to compete with due to the sector’s exponential growth.
In 2018, the medtech sector in Europe alone was worth €120bn, a value that has only increased further due to the investment in the sector since Covid-19 impacted us all and is set to continue its growth.
How are tech positions influencing the life sciences industry?
The influence of tech in the medical sector isn’t just limited to the development of medtech innovations like VR’s use in surgery or in the 3D printing of artificial limbs. It impacts many other areas as well.
For example, with the explosion of data now available on patients, from more accessible cross-hospital records influenced by global migration patterns, to greater data being made more freely available on genomic profiles and in ancestry records, the industry has hit a tipping point when it comes to the adoption of blockchain.
In 2018, 60pc of pharmaceutical and life science professionals were found to be either using or experimenting with blockchain – compared with 22pc asked in 2017.
This increasing adoption of blockchain will create more opportunities for tech professionals to influence the medical supply chain, management of clinical trials and work with patient data. The latter of these areas will necessitate the need for additional security specialists as well, to protect this data in an ever-more data-conscious world.
More traditional tech roles like software developers, software architects and software engineers have long been in demand for global businesses that need to create networks for their teams to operate within.
When Covid-19 first impacted these teams, there was immediate demand for professionals with cloud experience, so to ensure that all research and processes could carry on across these multinational businesses, even when lockdown became a reality for most of them.
As part of this transition, we have seen high demand for scrum masters to assist with this change and growth, as well as professionals experienced with big data to not only work with Covid-related information, but other trials and programmes as well.
Working with a purpose
Aside from the opportunity for a challenge and to get rewarded with great benefits packages and progression opportunities, perhaps the most valuable reward for candidates applying their skills in the life sciences industry is the role that they will play in benefitting general health and in mitigating the impact of some medical conditions.
In the short-term, this may be in the fight against Covid-19, but going forward it could be in playing a part in improving the quality of life for everyone.
James Milligan is the global head of technology at Hays. A version of this article originally appeared on the Hays Technology blog.