REPORT: Biologics and CDMO, Talent Outlook 2019


Outlook: Talent acquisition in CDMO and biologics, 2019

Roles in high-demand: biotechnologists, geneticists, quality assurance, analytical development, process development, technical operations, market intelligence, c-suite, executive committee

Technological background: Operations, Development, Manufacturing, Validation plus

Regulatory expertise: Experience obtaining approvals in multiple regions

Skills and traits: Leadership, Strategic and creative vision, extensive personal networks, project management skills and client nurturing skills

Advice: Recruiting turnaround time will continue to grow. Consider working with an outside, executive recruiting firm to find key roles that need to be filled quickly.


The global market for biologics is growing rapidly, with total sales of biologics products alone amounting to $232 billion in 2016. As a result, the demand for biologics talent is growing concurrently. In fact, experts predict that by 2019, demand will outstrip supply.

Here’s what talent acquisition leaders for CDMOs in the biologics sector need to know about the predicted talent shortage.

Growth of the Biologics Sector

In recent years, there has been increased activity in the research, development, manufacturing, and sales of biologics. This is caused by the rapid pace of innovation, along with regulatory changes and the expiration of key patents, as well as the humane need for affordable therapies in the developing world and significant pressure on drug companies to lower prices in many other markets.

According to research by QuintilesIMS™, global biologics revenue has increased by 70 percent to $232 billion since 2012. Biologics products currently amount to approximately 25 percent of the total pharmaceutical market share, up from only 16 percent in 2006. Furthermore, experts predict that this rapid growth will continue.

There are several incumbents in the biologics space, such as Amgen, Roche, Sanofi. Lonza, and Samsung. Other large pharmaceutical companies have also started to expand into biologics and biosimilars. For example, Pfizer and Eli Lilly are co-developing Tanezumab, a biologic pain treatment that’s currently in phase III. This activity is being reflected by growth of CDMOs, too. Lonza recently announced the opening of its innovation hub in Israel, Patheon was busy acquiring a small contract manufacturing facility from Roche, and Fujifilm Diosynth announced it will begin working with Voyager Therapeutics, to name a few.

The growth helps explain the increased interest in CDMOs by Venture Capital and PE firms. New Spring Capital and Camden Partners, for example, have invested in Paragon BioServices, one of the fastest growing CDMO companies in the life sciences industry.

Outsourcing to CDMOs

An increasing number of CDMOs are differentiating themselves from the competition by specializing in specific areas and/or processes—and companies are willing to pay for this expertise. Outsourcing expenditure has increased significantly since 2010, and this trend is expected to continue for the coming years. HighTech Business Decisions predicts that the biologic drug substance CMO and CDMO market will reach a projected $4.1 billion in 2019, up from $2.8 billion in 2014.

There are various reasons biopharma companies outsource parts of their R&D and/or manufacturing processes to CDMOs. Outsourcing providers can help companies control costs and increase speed to market—both critical factors in a highly competitive market. Additionally, some companies, especially smaller biotech firms, don’t have the capacity to handle all of the processes involved in biologics product development.

Competition for Biologics Talent

This leaves numerous growth opportunities for CDMOs in the biologics space. However, it’s essential to recognize that with large pharmaceutical companies branching into biologics, the global competition for biologics talent is rising. By 2019, the demand will outstrip supply. Talent acquisition professionals need to be aware of the challenges ahead and prepare their talent strategies to ensure their companies aren’t blindsided by the upcoming skills shortage.

Talent shortage in CDMO

To take advantage of the growing market, CDMOs will need life sciences talent with a wide-range of high-demand skills. In addition to biotechnologists, geneticists, and other scientists, CDMOs will need new leaders, from the bench to the executive committee, including areas such as quality, analytical development, process development, technical operations, market intelligence among others.

Additionally, many companies now use global teams of clinical and technical talent that function 24/7 using advanced technologies including artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. These technologies are transforming traditional roles and talent needs to possess the right technical skills and adaptability.

The business and financial aspects of biopharmaceuticals also bring their own talent challenges. For example, the product development scope for biotherapeutic drugs is much larger than for traditional pharmaceuticals, involving approximately 250 in-process tests instead of the usual 50 or so required for a small-molecule therapy, according to the IFPMA report “Biotherapeutic Medicines: Grasping the New Generation of Treatments.” Talent at the senior management and executive levels require experience and skills to oversee these complex processes, as well as handle the HR and financial aspects of managing such large endeavors. Regulatory talent requires experience to obtain approval for a biologics product in various regions of the world.

To take advantage of the growth potential in biologics, companies will need to recruit leaders with the vision, skills, and networks to accomplish their scientific and business objectives. In addition, these leaders will be responsible for creating and implementing strategies to keep their companies moving forward in this rapidly developing, highly competitive field.

Additional resources:

2017 global life sciences outlook

Biotherapeutic Medicines: Grasping the New Generation of Treatments

Disruption and maturity: The next phase of biologics

Pfizer and Lilly Receive FDA Fast Track Designation for Tanezumab

Pfizer/Lilly’s Phase III trial for tanezumab in osteoarthritis still draws caution

Outsourcing Trends.

The Rise & Diversification of Biologics


Category: Articles | Biologics | CDMO

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