Venture capital (VC) investment in life sciences is at an all-time high. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the biopharma industry attracted new interest after a series of highly visible accomplishments. Breakthroughs in vaccines certainly gave investors a glimpse into what was possible, but the plans for the future go well beyond the current pandemic. Health and wellness has taken center stage in an uncertain economy. Now, VC investors are supercharging growth in markets across the United States.
As operations expand, spurred by unprecedented levels of funding, will a tightening and overworked life sciences workforce be able to keep pace with red hot demand? Here’s what the employment landscape looks like so far.
Big Investments Continue Rapid Growth
When it comes to dollars and cents, the future looks bright for the life sciences industry on the whole. To put it plainly, 2021 was a record setting year. Funding for life sciences saw a 35.5 percent gain, with VC deal activity shattering expectations to the tune of $36.3 billion injected into the industry by end of year. Major venture markets, such as the Bay Area, New York, Boston and Los Angeles, continued to lead the pack. However, experts are also predicting growth in additional markets, including Denver, Austin, Washington D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle and Boston. In fact, CBRE research indicates that life sciences companies looked to acquire a collective 23.8 million sq. ft. of new lab space in 12 top markets in 2021 – a staggering investment that left the construction industry scrambling to keep pace.
Meanwhile, all of this investment has led to production. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, 50 new drugs were approved in 2021 alone. These breakthroughs target diseases and conditions ranging from treatments for diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple types of cancer.
Incredible Output, but is the Workforce Poised for Burnout?
Obviously, increased investment in any industry is a positive development. However, if these investments are not handled properly, it could spell disaster for many startups hungry to make their mark. With speed comes the increased possibility of regulatory mishaps or errors in safety practices. The breakneck pace of work fueled by massive influx of cash can also take its toll on an already overworked workforce. Long hours, aggressive deadlines and shifting pandemic protocols can lead to added workplace stress. While recent research from WTW shows that 86 percent of employers identify mental health as a priority in 2022, nearly half of them do not have a formally articulated well-being strategy for their workforce. With skilled talent increasingly hard to find, losing any employees to burnout can set project timelines back considerably for any growing organization.
Keeping Up with the Demand for Talent
In truth, the scientific community is a force to be reckoned with in today’s economy. Boasting millions of unique job postings in recent years and steady employment growth in key sectors like biotechnology, there’s reason for optimism. Yet, employers find themselves struggling to build the teams of skilled talent needed to meet the market’s growing demands. The COVID-19 pandemic ignited huge shifts in the working world, and the life sciences industry was not immune to the Great Resignation. In order to attract new talent and retain the employees they have, employers are now being force to rethink they way they hire and manage their workforce. Trends to monitor in the year ahead include:
- Expanding diversity, equity and inclusion efforts to broaden the talent pool
- Further application of remote work and virtual hiring opportunities, leading to the delocalization of job search efforts
- Increased commitment to retention efforts that go beyond compensation alone, such as investment in education and upskilling opportunities.
Venture Capital and the Future of the Life Sciences Workforce
The demand for scientific innovation shows no signs of slowing in the years to come. As VC investors make their bets on the next big breakthrough, growing organizations will need to spend wisely to ensure the stability of their most valuable asset – talent. Otherwise, all the money in the world will only lead to expensive labs that are sitting empty.
Are you a pharmaceutical or biotech employer in need of skilled talent for your next project? Get in touch with a Medix recruitment expert today.