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CEO biotechnology survey reveals hot button issues


Ottawa, ON September 16, 2003 The results of a survey of CEOs and senior executives in Canada’s biotechnology healthcare sector was released today by executive search firm Egon Zehnder International. The survey reveals several hot button issues which continue to be an ongoing concern for CEOs: raising capital, recruiting and retaining talent, appropriately compensating executives, securing regulatory approval and establishing effective corporate governance.

The immediate concern of Canadian biotechnology healthcare CEOs is raising capital. Nearly 30% of those interviewed highlighted this as their most significant obstacle for success in 2003. This is not surprising given the tight financing situation of the past two years which has seen many biotech companies take cash conservation measures in order to weather the bear market.

The second most important challenge cited was the acquisition and retention of top talent, especially in scientific areas (R&D, clinical trials, and medical affairs) and in business development. Scarcity of individuals with the required skill set/experience and difficulties in attracting people to Canada from the US and Europe were cited as the two key reasons for difficulty in recruiting senior executives.

Another key preoccupation of CEOs centred around regulatory approval issues, with 70% of interviewees expressing concerns regarding regulators in the US and Canada. CEOs also stated that continued success in each stage of the clinical trial process will dictate the long-term success of many of these companies. To this end, many companies are looking to establish partnerships with organizations such as pharmaceutical firms to help navigate the regulatory and financial hurdles associated with bringing a biotech product to market. CEOs also expressed concerns regarding corporate governance. Some of the main challenges in this area arise from the need to comply with the US Sarbanes-Oxley act.

The survey was conducted in partnership with BIOTECanada, the Biotechnology Human Resource Council and RBC Financial Group.