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Market Insight Series: Research and Development

Compass Life Sciences are pleased to announce our latest Market Insight Series which focusses on reviewing the Life Sciences markets for job seekers and clients, based on our observations over the past six months.

For our third post in this series, the Compass Life Sciences team have provided valuable insight into the UK, European and US markets based on trends and interactions during this timescale.

Research and Development (R&D) – like many of the sub-sectors of the Life Sciences industry – has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 these past 6 months.

London calling: the new global R&D hub?

One key area which has seen demand skyrocket, is for the physical services used by R&D professionals, specifically the lab space. There has been much talk recently about post-BREXIT plans to turn London into a key “hub” for all things Research and Development – perhaps even globally – over the next three years.

The MSD UK Discovery Centre is at advanced stages of discussion for building a 500 lab facility in St Pancras, in order to overcome a familiar barrier in the UK: the talent is here, but the space and facilities is lacking.

One recent trend observed by the Compass Life Sciences team is the transition of candidates who are working in an academic environment, into on-site, research roles within the sector. This surge has very much been in response to the rallying call from organisations looking to accommodate demands in their services.

CDMOs in the money

CDMOs have seen significant investment poured into their R&D offering, specifically to increase space to accommodate a “COVID-accelerated” demand for their services, often driven by Pharmaceutical businesses using contract development and manufacturing organisations to produce and develop drugs.

One well documented example is Valneva: formerly a 200 strong travel vaccine company; following the impact of the global pandemic, government funding to speed up the development and manufacturing of the COVID vaccines; the business now boasts several thousand employees in Scotland – and has become the model to scale up all aspects of their offering.

Employee value proposition: attracting talent

From a recruitment perspective, one observation Compass Life Sciences have seen is that organisations who put recruitment on hold from April 2020 at the start of the pandemic have fared worse than those who continued to hire. This is primarily owing to the high demand in talented R&D professionals causing a battle to secure candidates at a time when many businesses are experiencing unprecedented levels of growth – and therefore need to keep staffing levels high to keep up with demands on their services.

BREXIT has caused employment issues (specifically work visas) for European candidates. Historically, right to work legislation has meant a seamless transition to work for our European friends, however well-documented socio-political issues now mean clients are having to look further afield to secure candidates.

In the battle to attract talent in the R&D space – predominantly more so at entry level – employer branding has become increasingly more important. Prospective employees are spending more time doing “due diligence” and market research on organisations they might be joining – ranging from looking at Glassdoor; word of mouth; reviewing ESG and D&I policies of the company; to clarifying working from home arrangements. It has never been more important for businesses to ensure they demonstrate their mission and values – and can evidence these being lived – to avoid missing out on talented R&D professionals.

Over the course of the last 6 months, the team are proud to have delivered on team builds with some of the most established Consumer Health organisations in the R&D space; supported the exponential growth of a globally recognised Biotech; and continued our ongoing partnership with a UK based Biotech.

To view more industry news, case studies based on work completed by the Compass Life Sciences team, please click here.