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Biotechnology - An Industry on a Growth Path

The life science industry is changing rapidly. Rising populations, new diseases and innovative technologies. In the past, the pharmaceutical industry was considered to be at the forefront of medicines. In recent years, however, the field of biotechnology has been growing rapidly and is becoming increasingly popular when it comes to the production of drugs and medical treatments. Especially during the Corona pandemic, this sector experienced a real boom. But what is biotechnology anyway, what products are being produced in this field and what factors are fuelling this growth, especially in the medical field? You will find the answers in this blog article.

What is the biotech industry?

Biotech is short for biotechnology and has been part of our everyday lives for centuries. It is the application of science and technology to living organisms, parts of them, their products or models. Living and non-living matter are modified, opening up almost infinite possibilities for the production of goods such as medicines.

The beginnings of modern biotechnology date back to the 18th century, when advances in the field of microbiology laid an important foundation for later developments with research into enzymes and bacteria.

Based on this initial research, the methods of molecular biology are used in many different ways today.

This is why biotechnology is often referred to as a so-called cross-sectional technology, as it can be applied in a very wide range of economic sectors, such as agriculture, the cosmetics industry, the food industry or even medicine.


Important biomedical products

In the medical sector, medicinal products based on biotechnological applications are called biopharmaceuticals (biologics or biologicals). The most common products in the medical sector are monoclonal antibodies, vaccines and insulins. These three groups of active ingredients alone account for over 60 percent of approved biopharmaceuticals.

These are modern medicines that offer new and helpful treatment options against serious, rare and life-threatening diseases such as cancer, rheumatism and multiple sclerosis.

The best-known drug in biotechnology is penicillin, which was discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming in 1928 and was the first antibiotic to be launched on the market in 1942, thus laying an important milestone for the use of biopharmaceutical drugs.

Probably the best-known current example of a biotechnological product is the (m)RNA vaccine from BioNTech/Pfizer. This vaccine is not only the first of its kind, but also the first to be approved worldwide as an active ingredient in the fight against the Corona virus. Learn more about RNA as a novel mechanism of action for vaccines in another article from us. RNA as a novel mechanism of action for vaccines..


Who are the biggest and best-known biotech companies?

Since the beginning of the 2020s, the sector has been one of the fastest-growing industries worldwide. The Corona pandemic in particular showed that new drugs and vaccines are needed quickly in certain situations. The largest and most corporations are found in the United States and South Korea. In the list of the top 10 biotech companies in 2020, only four countries were represented in total: the USA, South Korea, Australia and Spain.

The top companies in 2020 included, for example, Bristol Myers Squibb (haematology and oncology), Amgen Amgen (human therapeutics) or Biogen (treatment of common diseases such as Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis).

The data for the top 10 from 2021 has not yet been confirmed. Due to the Corona pandemic, however, experts assume that the companies Moderna and BioNTech are now among the ten companies with the highest turnover in the industry. BioNTech was able to turn over about 13 billion US dollars in the first to third quarter. This should put the company in fourth place in the ranking.

In the meantime, Germany can also hold its own against international competition. With rising turnover figures, companies are growing and in the course of this, the need for personnel is also increasing. From 2019 to 2020, the number of employees in the industry rose by 5.8% to around 42,300 jobs - a new record.

What factors support the growth of the medical biotech industry?

Modern drug research and development is no longer conceivable without biotechnology. Demographic changes promote the growth of drug research, because a forecast for 2050 predicts that more than two billion people will then be older than 60. As age increases, health declines and the need for treatment options increases.

Researchers predict increased human diseases in the future, as well as diseases transmitted from animals to humans. They cite factory farming and the wildlife trade as reasons for this. The destruction of habitats will also be to blame, as contact between humans and animals is becoming ever closer as a result. 

Last but not least, climate change plays a major role. Diseases are emerging more and more quickly as a result, and it is the advances in medical biotechnology that will play a central role in developing effective medicines or vaccines against such diseases in a relatively short time.

Another important factor is the significance of biotechnology for the future in general. Advances in IT will make it possible in the future to represent and simulate cells on the computer. This will make it possible to intervene in complex metabolic pathways in a more targeted way. This means that the risk of hereditary diseases can be reduced and therapies can be targeted more specifically at the point of origin. 

But this is not the end of the story. With the help of biotechnology, complex tissues or entire organs can be cultivated in the future. This development could also revolutionise transplant medicine from the ground up.


Importance for recruitment

The growth of companies also has an impact on the recruitment sector. A large company needs a large workforce. This increases the demand for qualified professionals. However, the life sciences industry unfortunately suffers from a constant shortage of skilled workers. Learn more about the bottlenecks in the life science sector in this article, and about the posssibilities of external recruiting as resource for staffing

About Vality One

We support companies in the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical technology sectors in their search for highly qualified personnel on a permanent basis and via contracting. In doing so, we cover the entire value chain of your company and the entire product life cycle of your drug or medical product.

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