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Life sciences in 2018: Looking back on the year that was

Ben Alger our consultant managing the role
Posted by Ben Alger
Published on 3 January 2019

2018 has been a big year for Quanta, particularly when it comes to our life sciences division. With more than 18 years’ experience providing recruitment expertise to this sector, we have a strong grounding in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and more, and this year we saw a great variety of interesting roles and talented candidates come through our office. As innovation and research and development continued to shake up the industry, we saw huge developments in the industry as a whole – leading to a new raft of opportunities for our contractors and permanent staff alike. Here are the highlights:

Technologies took over

Technology has always had a major impact on life sciences, and 2018 was no exception. Robotics, AI and blockchain were the big buzzwords of the year, with ongoing digital developments expected into 2019 and beyond. We saw 60% of life science organisations use or try out blockchain in some form, with benefits to supply chain functions such as permission sharing, and traceability, with the immutability of data perceived to be the greatest benefit of using blockchain in life sciences.

Meanwhile, life science organisations are expanding their use of artificial intelligence (AI) across the product lifecycle. Automation is already being used to accelerate key production stages, and we’ll see unified machine learning models implemented to predict future behaviour and performance in clinical trials. With a lack of AI-skilled labour on the market, we can expect to see life sciences organisations offering competitive packages to secure the best talent.

New locations emerged

With global healthcare expenditures projected to reach US$8.7 trillion by 2020, it’s no wonder that life sciences markets are booming all over the world. The North American, Asian and Australian markets dominate current and projected pharmaceutical spending, with India and Indonesia some of the fastest-growing countries in pharma sales at the moment. India’s economy is on track to be the fifth-largest in the world later this year (2019), and its life sciences market is growing accordingly. With the third-largest pharmaceuticals market in the world, and the largest supply of generic drugs on the planet, opportunities are rife to take your life sciences career to India. Elsewhere, the Netherlands is seeing an expanding market and is home to more than 2,500 life sciences and research organisations. Life sciences is such an integral part of the local market that it’s ranked as one of the nine ‘top sectors’ in the Netherlands, while nearby Switzerland sees a massive 41% of its exports coming from the chemical, pharmaceuticals and biotech sector.

An enhanced focus on different subsectors

Life sciences expanded in scope this year, and we certainly felt it at Quanta. Regulatory affairs grew in line with increased government focus on pharmaceutical safety and efficacy, with ever-evolving product safety requirements and regulatory updates ensuring there was plenty of activity in this space in 2018. We also saw movement within pharmacovigilance, also known as drug safety, with strong markets across Europe, Asia Pacific and North America. The market is expected to increase at CAGR of 13% to 2022, suggesting there will be plenty of roles available for skilled professionals in this area.

We also noticed more permanent roles becoming available within life sciences, reflecting its constant evolution and growth.

Keep in the loop

At Quanta, we pride ourselves on maintaining an up-to-date knowledge of our sectors, with consultants firmly embedded in all things life science. Keep up with our blogs to find out the latest industry news, or find a new life sciences job to take your next career step.