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Council urges action on HR issues in biotech sector


Ottawa, ON – A new study looking at human resources in Canada’s biotech sector concludes that more attention should be paid to strengthening leadership and management in order to take biotech companies from discovery to commercialization. Biotechnology underpins many of the new developments in modern medicine and agriculture but these developments aren’t of much use if they aren’t turned into products, notes the study, commissioned by the Biotechnology Human Resource Council.

“A great deal of time and money is required to take scientific discoveries to the marketplace. A solid management base and refocused training initiatives will ensure that biotech companies continue to develop and prosper,” says Peter McCann, BHRC chair. The study identifies several urgent human resource needs, including bolstering corporate governance, increasing networking and learning opportunities for executives and helping students acquire the ‘job ready’ skills in demand by industry.

Canada is recognized as a world leader in biotechnology, second only to the US. As more and more sectors of the economy rely on biotechnology, a growing number of jobs are being created for Canadians. However, as the sector moves into a more resource-intensive focus on the aggregation, development and commercialization of discoveries, concrete measures will be needed to sustain this rate of growth. “Other countries such as the UK are right on our heels,” says Claire Thifault, BHRC executive director. “In order for Canada to preserve its leadership position globally, we must move quickly to address the human resource issues facing the industry.”

The study, entitled Converging Science and Leadership – The Key to the Future, was led by a panel of key figures from the Canadian biotechnology sector. Through comprehensive national consultations, experts from various fields examined current and future staffing and management demand in the biotech sector, as well as innovative approaches to future human resource development. The report findings should lead BHRC to develop an integrated national strategy that will spur initiatives in training, human resource management, strategic immigration, career development and industry-academia partnerships designed to bolster Canada’s competitiveness.