UK Life Sciences & Healthcare Industry in 2022: An ever-optimistic tale

Odgers Interim Future UK Life Sciences Healthcare 2022

In this article, SJ Leatherdale, Partner and Head of our Life Sciences & Healthcare Practice, reflects on observations from within the Life Sciences & Healthcare industry in the UK, the challenge of attracting the right talent, and the potential of the industry to establish the UK as a world leader in the post-pandemic economy.

As we are nearing the 2-year mark since the beginning of the global Covid-19 pandemic, we can say without a doubt that the Life Sciences & Healthcare industry in the UK is not only booming, but under enormous pressure at all fronts. From reducing elective backlogs caused by the pandemic, facing workforce shortages in particular operational disciplines, to growth - whether physically, financially, or in terms of production, supply and capacity - the industry is facing tremendous challenges. Considering that these difficulties are coupled with a very exhausted workforce, who admirably soldier on in sheer determination and dedication, the future of the UK Life Sciences and Healthcare industry is looking rather challenging.

But with every challenge comes opportunity. In this article, I will reflect on industry trends, the challenges that come with the growing demand across the sectors, and the vast opportunities within UK Life Sciences & Healthcare industry in 2022 – and beyond.

Growing pressure

London, Autumn 2021. According to recent research by MedCity, Life Science and Healthcare organisations are on the hunt for business space in Great Britain’s capital city in the hope to benefit from the incredible advantages that London has to offer businesses.

Apart from its renowned status of being a world-leading capital city for businesses and investment opportunities, the growing pressure on London’s real estate is a direct result of London’s infrastructure and amenities, its dense network of universities and research facilities provide a close-knit community of scientific excellence, and as a world city it boasts some of the most innovative real estate to foster collaborative working, innovation, and healthy competition. As a global metropolis, London, and its businesses and organisations, is also renowned for championing inclusion and diversity, all of which contributes to attracting an unparalleled talent pool.

The report highlights that demand for space in the capital exceeds the needs we have previously seen, which has been accelerated even further over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. This puts a lot of pressure on smaller businesses or research labs, as larger or more well-established organisations find it easier to afford and secure real estate in the city. This is a potential danger for the continued success in innovation and scientific rigour, both of which can thrive during healthy competition, but risk being faced out by lack of access to space and talent.

And talent in itself is in high demand. The pandemic has increased the demand on the Life Science and Healthcare industry in the UK - and for that matter globally - as I can see with my UK and International Partner colleagues just how much organisations and businesses are growing at an unforeseen pace. However, at the same time, the pandemic has put enormous pressure on talent pools, with many sectors – private, as well as public – reporting labour shortages and difficulties attracting and retaining talent. It truly is competitive against the huge surge in work force expansion.

Growing under pressure

But, as mentioned in my introduction, with every challenge comes opportunity. Growing under pressure allows industries to re-prioritise, re-focus, re-group, and re-evaluate business objectives and performances. The current climate across Life Sciences and Healthcare in the UK is encouraging – business is growing, investment is flowing more freely in the wake of a global pandemic, and the UK is still attracting a vast pool of talented scientists and researchers, owning to a large extent to the world-class higher education institutions and international reputation for research excellence.

The pandemic has put Life Sciences and Healthcare at the forefront of public life with many realising the importance of and reliance on scientific research to manage the impact of a global virus, increase chances of human survival, and ensure sufficient supplies of protective gear, testing materials, and other life-saving equipment across the health and care sector.

Life Science Industry News reported in a recent article, that this year’s highly anticipated budget included a “£5.9 billion package for NHS England to clear the care backlog, £5 billion for health-related R&D and an expansion of the new Community Diagnostic Centre network.” This budget allocation highlights the vital importance of the industry and points to the growing demand the sector will be facing in months and years to come.

As previously stated, attracting and retaining talent will be another challenge the industry will be facing, but within this challenge lies huge potential. In an increasingly competitive market, businesses will have to step up to the mark to create a work environment that is inclusive, collaborative, hybrid and rewarding, providing employees with room to grow and be innovative. To achieve this, inclusion and diversity are of vital importance. As a global recruitment firm, we have recently launched our in-house Inclusion and Diversity Consultancy, offering bespoke services to our clients to enable them to build an inclusive and diverse company culture where creativity, high-performance, safety, engagement, inclusion and diversity are at the heart of what they do.

Businesses embracing these values are likely to attract top candidates, while retaining their existing workforce.

In general, businesses are in the fortunate position to benefit from times of disturbance and growth by re-focusing on the areas they want to excel in and purposefully drive forward projects that will help them outperform their competition. One solution to achieve this is through hiring a highly skilled interim executive or independent consultant. Interims & Consultants, by their very nature, are accustomed to adversity and uncertainty, they are unbiased, project outcome focused, and more often than not experts in transformation and leadership. Hiring an interim executive or independent consultant in times of growth can accelerate business performance beyond traditional scope and time frames, making interim management a cost-effective solution in the long-term.

If you would like to find out more about our Life Sciences and Healthcare Practice, or you would like more information about our interim management or independent consulting solutions, please get in touch with SJ Leatherdale.


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