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Five ways life science companies can build tech talent

We are living and working in a digital world in which organisations that do not keep pace with transformation are liable to be consigned to the history books. Life sciences is clearly a sector wherein this cannot be allowed to happen, given the industry’s pivotal role in healthcare innovation.

Some significant digital transformations have already occurred within the biotech space, largely driven by the need to respond to the exigencies of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. These include remote patient consultations, decentralised clinical trials and increased supply chain scrutiny.

To continue to advance the digital experience to the benefit of life sciences and global healthcare practice, it is essential that both well-established and early stage European biotech companies invest in appropriate tech talent to support them on their journey.

Why tech talent should want to work in biotech

Biotech is a fascinating industry with a compelling mission: to improve human health and quality of life. It is at the forefront of many scientific discoveries and offers truly competitive salaries. The downside is that, unlike medical and scientific staff, the tech talent required by the life sciences sector is precisely the same as that required by every other industry. Cloud architects, full-stack engineers and reliability engineers are in constant demand with highly transferable skills. To attract them to life sciences will require a five-pronged approach.

Attracting tech talent to biotech

1. Strategic workforce planning

The tech skills of yesterday are not necessarily those that are needed today, nor will they be those that are in demand tomorrow. In order to appropriately staff your business with the talent that will support the realisation of your digital transformation goals, it is vital that a long-term, strategic plan is put in place to support workforce planning.

This will involve proactively aligning the talent that will be required with the business’ product pipeline. Understanding the projects that are forecast and the challenges that the business is likely to face en route will drive a deeper understanding as to which staff must be embedded within the business at what point, together with the skills that they will require to overcome the challenges that the organisation will face.

By strategically aligning delivery with workforce planning, it becomes possible to plan for training, developing, recruiting and restructuring the workforce in a targeted manner.

2. Candidate attraction

Where critical tech talent does not already exist in the workforce, you will need to recruit. Attracting the top tech talent across the industry will require organisations to clearly define the benefit to candidates of joining the life sciences sector rather than seeking similar work elsewhere.

It is necessary to reiterate the benefit to humanity of the work undertaken by the industry, which may foreground altruism in some candidates. However, in tandem, organisations will need to promote the specifics of the tech opportunities that exist and that will shape the careers of those who choose to make a move. In much the same way as healthcare products are marketed, the tech roles on offer must be actively promoted with success metrics and other vital statistics used to attract the attention of the strongest candidates.

The best tech talent has zero tolerance for outdated working environments, tools and processes. Providing them with the opportunity to influence the future of the business’ technology stack will be a significant deciding factor which can be successfully employed by biotech startup and scaleup organisations who are just beginning their digital transformation journey.

3. Implement an efficient recruitment process

With so much of our everyday lives digitised, a prolonged or tortuous recruitment process will almost invariably cause talented candidates to drop out or accept work elsewhere before the process has completed. Implementing an agile recruitment process that reflects the needs of applicants is, therefore, a prerequisite to success.

Establish up-front the skills and personality traits that you need of your next hire and build your process around appealing to that individual. Screen out those candidates that are unsuitable and process your ideal hire as quickly as possible in order to secure them before your competition does.

A streamlined and efficient recruitment process builds candidate confidence in much the same manner that digital patient engagement systems satisfy the needs of the general public who are seeking first-line medical advice and assistance.

4. Embed agile working practices

Tech talent is uniquely positioned in that much of their work can be conducted remotely and at times to suit them. They should not be restricted to standard working hours or tied to a desk in the business’ headquarters. When you hire the top tech talent, you must trust and empower them to work in an agile fashion, with a focus on delivery rather than presenteeism and visibility.

High-performing teams that work autonomously have greater levels of job satisfaction and typically deliver enhanced productivity and output. Venture capital funding should be appropriately used to enable tech talent to achieve their objectives, even where this means challenging existing practices and implementing new ways of working.

5. Offer tailored development opportunities

By no means every tech hire will want to move out of tech into a managerial position. Some will wish to incrementally develop their skills through targeted cross-functional exchanges or even explore scientific roles within the organisation.

Understanding what drives your staff has always been key to retaining them, and the current tech cohort are no exception. When your tech talent is engaged, motivated and experiencing job satisfaction and the prospect of ongoing development, you are far more likely to retain them for the long term.


Hiring tech talent requires a different approach to hiring research scientists or commercial professionals. Their role is equally as vital to the success of a biotech organisation but they will experience dramatic change over the coming years and decades. It is imperative that organisations in this field understand the challenges that are likely to impact them and take the time to proactively prepare, adequately structuring and rewarding a tech workforce that will be central to the delivery of strategic objectives.

Not sure where to start on attracting tech talent for your business? We have more than 15 years of expertise in recruitment/people strategy in the life sciences. Book a consultation with us today for expert advice on getting the tech talent you need.

If you found this insight interesting, we recommend reading 7 Ways to Maximise Your Startup Recruitment Strategy

ScaleX Consulting offer trusted business consulting and recruitment services to life sciences and biotech companies, ready to take the next step in their journey, particularly with life science recruitment, sales and marketing.