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Is the BigTech talent market an opportunity for Biotech?

The exit door from BigTech could be an open door for talent-hungry Biotech scale-ups.
BigTech,   BioTech,   Talent insights

BigTech vs Biotech: Talent


Capitalising on peaks and troughs in hiring within other niche ecosystems is an important part of talent acquisition. In niche ecosystems talent supply typically lags behind demand. Knowing and spotting transferable skillsets is a critical part of the puzzle to solve this. Our embedded consultancy model has supported partners to scale in aquaculture, blockchain, fusion,  and carbon capture technologies.


BigTech under the microscope


With big tech being one of the heavily impacted talent markets in the current economic crisis, there has been an increase in talent making the leap to Biotech. Is this signalling a longer-term trend? Will BigTech reign supreme as queen of destination employers or is Biotech the next “big thing”?

Biotech and BigTech isn’t a connection that people would traditionally expect, but in recent times with developments in AI, big data and machine learning, the two industries are aligning more and more.

Historically, the talent market within Biotech has been quite narrow and very niche. This was down to a shortage of scientists who have the specific knowledge needed in areas that are so ground-breaking, that teaching can’t keep up with the demand. However, we are seeing one area where Biotech can grow and learn from BigTech on talent….computing and AI.


Between July 2021 and July 2022, Johnson & Johnson posted nearly 2,500 AI-related job openings; AstraZeneca, more than 1,000 AI jobs; and Takeda, Novartis, and Pfizer each sought to fill 600-plus AI roles.


AI jobs accounted for 7% of all new job postings at pharma companies in July 2022, according to the GlobalData analysis, compared to 2% a year prior. With the cut-throat nature of BigTech and recent rounds of lay-offs, (During Q1 2023 Amazon had over 27,000 losses, Microsoft had over 10,000 losses and Meta had over 10,000 losses) are we seeing a migration of highly skilled candidates who are looking for pastures new? Will people start settling in at Biotech companies, where they have perceived longer-term security?


Biotech opportunity


With advancements in AI, Biotech can utilize the experience and skills of the best talent coming over from BigTech to speed up the process from R&D through clinical development and manufacture. AI applications in BioTech include drug target identification, drug screening, image screening, and predictive modelling.

AI is also being used to comb through the vast volumes of scientific literature and manage clinical trial data at significantly faster rates than relying on teams of people using human intuition and manual exploration, who are quickly becoming obsolete for the task.

Currently, the first batch of AI-designed drugs is going to clinical trials and it seems companies are doubling down in this area. Within the last 12 months, we have seen nearly half of pharma/bio companies advertising for at least one AI position according to business intelligence firm GlobalData.


Biotech threat


BigTech is always looking to stay ahead of the curve. it could potentially swallow the advances made in smaller Biotech organisations through the acquisition of businesses, technology & talent. For example Google and Microsoft are making investments to be able to work with pharma and bio companies in order to stay at the forefront of innovation. These companies are developing AI’s to support R&D and Clinical Development, and Amazon is pushing into the forefront to try to cover the supply chain.


Purpose vs Profit


Employers within the Biotech industry can take advantage of the uncertainty and ongoing redundancies in the BigTech sector. Deploying the most talented people from these organisations into the world-changing biotechnology projects will only benefit the industry and world going forward.

This opportunity has been driven by redundancies in BigTech. However, we think there could also be a shift in the core motivations and drivers of the general population to work on projects with purpose and impact vs cool BigTech that makes lots of money.

There is an opportunity for Biotech firms to present themselves to BigTech talent via a strong employer brand. Genuine purpose-focused businesses have been winning and it looks set to stay that way for some time.

We’re obsessed with the future and Biotech is right at the heart of it.