The blue skies and balmy weather of Barcelona were the perfect backdrop for BIO-Europe Spring this year. The 2,400 biotech pros at the conference joined in some frenetic biotech speed-dating with one of our contacts reporting 60 face-to-face meetings during the 3-day meeting. While that’s a schedule to test anyone, it gives an insight into the scale of the opportunity and the degree of interest that we’re seeing in biotech this year.

Personalised medicine driving the need for new talent

So, what drove all this urgency? Oncology, especially immuno-oncology, Central Nervous System, Cell and Gene therapies and the Microbiome featured strongly, with many smaller companies presenting innovative approaches in their respective fields. It was abundantly clear that investors and big pharma were on the hunt for new, innovative opportunities, which added to the general buzz of the conference.

The complexity of some of these areas, and the opportunity to draw on the vast amount of information generated from new technologies such as CRISPR, necessitates new expertise to capture the information and generate useful insights. To this end, it was no surprise that a whole session was devoted to ‘Big data and Bioinformatics’.

To ensure that these innovative approaches are commercially viable and ultimately deliver benefits to patients requires a diverse team of talented individuals. People who can adapt and learn quickly and who are open to working in what is perceived to be a riskier environment. Companies are realising that talent from other sectors with an interest and passion in life sciences could benefit teams that have traditionally been built by individuals who have worked exclusively in this industry.

As mathematical and data-based methodologies are increasingly being applied to biology, people who can help translate big data and apply it to the drug discovery and development process are in demand. Recognition that this kind of outside-the-box thinking is needed to find the best talent is accelerating progress. This is just one way that understanding the evolution of medical research and future-proofing talent searches will help progress research and ultimately deliver valuable and life-saving medicines.

Could the UK do more?

Barcelona is in the heart of Catalonia, one of Europe’s most life science intensive regions, and the home team put on a great show. Austria and Germany also had a strong presence but the UK’s showing was noticeably smaller than others. Whilst the UK also hosted a Breakfast Networking Meeting where the Ambassador to Spain and representatives of the UK Department of International Trade spoke, we were left with the feeling that given the changing political environment, the country needs to gain a much higher profile at events like this in the future. The UK has so many great life science assets and talented people, now is the time for it to be bold and confident and to appear to be so.

If you’d like to hear more about what happened at BIO-Europe Spring, or find out how our successful and industry leading Proof of Candidate®  approach can help you, then contact us.

Dr Andy Theodorou, Senior Consultant |

Mark Howard, Partner |

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