Growing Biotech: The Necessary Skills and Opportunities in the Sector

There is a productive sector where a multitude of companies are ready to invest in young graduates to conduct research on drugs, vaccines, laboratory tests, and biomedical technology. In this context, skills such as learn agility, flexibility, and a willingness to learn even financial skills are required. This is the biotech sector, a field where excellence characterizes most university courses.

The value of this sector emerges from a roundtable featuring its representatives, such as Giorgia Iegiani, President of Italian Biotechnologists, Elena Peron, Talent Acquisition & Talent Management Lead at Sanofi, Arianna Farella (Adecco), Daniela Bellomo, Director of Business Development and Technology Transfer at San Raffaele Hospital, and Clelia Peano, Head of National Facility for Genomics at Human Technopole.

Generally, the issue for young people uncertain about whether to choose a career in biotech is imagining where and how they will work after graduation. While the path to developing one’s skills is long and somewhat evolving, there are many opportunities for success, and they start early. Those who learn “biotech” not only make discoveries (from telomeres for anti-aging to “bio” dyes for food and biochemical tests) but also integrate the knowledge they acquire, know how to connect with other professionals, and are never alone. This is confirmed by the stories of young researchers like Alessio Lanna (now a lecturer at UCL in London!), Laura Gerosa, and Antonio Idà, shared at the convention “Building the Future: The Role of the Biotechnologist,” held at Mind in Milan by Federchimica Assobiotec in partnership with Edra and ITT Biomed.

The Global Biotech Landscape

The whole world is focused on biotech. Globally, the sector was worth 720 billion euros in 2021, but it is expected to triple in value over the next eight years. While the United States holds 60% of the global market, the European Union and China each account for about 11-12%, with China having an impressive development plan, as does India. The problem at the community level, as explained by Fabrizio Greco, President of Federchimica, is that countries are moving individually to conduct research. Brussels has launched the STEP program (Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform), which provides member states with funds for high-tech and digital technologies (including defense), clean technologies and renewable energies, and biotechnologies. The issue for Italy is technology transfer; the ideas are there, the EU funds are arriving, but the connection between the two is not. “We need to train researchers and enable them to transform their ideas,” says Greco. “Scientific publications are not enough; we need to create things that can be transferred to the industry, focusing on technology transfer.” In a word, “aggregators.”

The Growing Importance of Lombardy in Italian Biotech

The increasing weight of Lombardy in Italian biotech is a topic within a topic. The region has long sought to optimize its research investments and has made significant use of European funds. Thanks to these funds, explains University Councillor Alessandro Fermi, regional investments – where biotech plays a key role – will be double those of the previous five years. Fermi also announces two imminent measures to connect Lombardy’s often medium-sized companies with newly emerging or just-established startups created by young entrepreneurs, and with university research. The first measure involves incentives to adopt startups based on affinities: SMEs would benefit from the newcomers’ research while helping them connect to the market. Simultaneously, there is an investment in universities to equip them with laboratories, machinery, and research centers available to companies that struggle to finance experimental phases on their own.