How is Switzerland's life sciences market responding to COVID-19

Posting date: 03 June 2020

The outbreak of COVID-19 is an opportunity for Switzerland's life sciences market to deliver the world the one thing that it’s crying out for right now – a vaccine. Researchers at the University of Bern are working around the clock to become the first to produce a vaccine and have delivered the ambitious goal of immunising 100% of the Swiss population against the virus by October.

 

Other large biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in Switzerland are proving determined to find a vaccine, as smaller enterprises rely on the nation to provide economic relief packages which will help them survive the virus. While it’s uncertain what the long-term impacts of COVID-19 will be, there are two outcomes of the pandemic that are hard to ignore – innovation and collaboration. Read on to find out how Switzerland’s life sciences market is responding to Covid-19.

 

Where the action is happening

Switzerland has long been known as an innovative nation and the dynamic life sciences sector is what attracts so many key players in the global market to establish headquarters or run operations on its soil. In Basel alone, there are 700 life sciences companies, employing 33,900 employees who produce goods and services valued at a staggering $405 million each hour. Despite Basel being known as Switzerland’s hub of life sciences, it’s companies in the capital city, Zurich, and nearby town, Bern, who are showcasing the most promising developments towards a Covid-19 vaccine.

 

Swapping Swiss chocolate for antibodies

The Swiss biotechnology sector has seen continued growth over the past several decades and just last year 19 biotech companies were established in the country. Though the pandemic may have stopped most of the world in its tracks – causing many people to learn how to be productive when working from home - that’s not the case for biotechnology companies who have instead reallocated their resources in the race to create a vaccination. One Swiss biotech in particular – Memo Therapeutics – are screening healthy participants who have recovered from a strong bout of COVID-10 and repaying them in Swiss chocolate. MEMO is a recognised leader in antibody discovery and is using these proteins which are extracted from recovered patients to develop a vaccine as well as to help create therapies.

 

A global collaboration

The Covid-19 Therapeutics Accelerator was initiated by the Gates Foundation in an effort to combine the expertise and facilities of life sciences companies around the globe. The CEO of Novartis – a Swiss pharmaceutical giant – has stepped up to co-chair this group of 15 companies to ensure seamless collaboration. The newly-established group recognise that sharing their ‘proprietary libraries of molecular compounds’ will accelerate the progress in identifying a suitable compound meaning that the in vivo trials could be running within two months. This global alliance between life sciences companies may see a vaccination reach the population sooner than imagined and could be the future of faster drug discovery.

 

Novartis is also dedicating time to understanding the severe life-threatening complications that Covid-19 can present. Their ongoing trial, CAN-COVID, has progressed to Phase III clinical trials and is enrolling participants across Europe with the hopes to develop a therapy which increases the survival rate for those who contract the virus.

 

A forward-thinking approach

According to Swiss Life Sciences' 2020 Trend Analysis, the nation is home to 1,885 life sciences companies, one of them being Neurimmune. This biopharmaceutical company is also working on a Covid-19 therapy and is at the development stage for an antibody-based treatment that will be administered directly to the lungs. This forward-thinking approach to therapeutics could dramatically reduce the damage that coronavirus has on the lungs, therefore improving patient recovery and lowering the mortality rate.

 

An alternative to a vaccination

Global health experts predict that a vaccination won’t be delivered until early 2021 but that has not stopped Swiss biopharmaceutical company Molecular Partners from developing an innovative response to the virus. Rather than formulating a medicine that provides the body with immunisation to Covid-19, they’re working towards creating a class of protein therapeutics known as DARPin which will act as inhibitors that prevent the virus from entering the human cell. This approach would limit the potential of the human population developing resistance to a vaccination and could be an essential treatment to eradicate coronavirus.

 

A steady recovery

In 2019, the combined biotech, pharmaceuticals and chemical industries in Switzerland employed over 50,000 people and contributed to 40% of the nation’s exports. Though the global health emergency initiated an economic downturn in sectors across the world, the displays of innovation and collaboration in recent months ensure that Switzerland’s life sciences market will remain competitive into the future.

 

Swisslinx is here to help

Our team of consultants at Swisslinx are keeping abreast of new developments in the life sciences market meaning that we’re best placed to provide industry advice. Read how Switzerland is responding to Covid-19 and find out what we’re doing to support our clients and candidates. If you’re looking for fresh life sciences talent, Contact us and a member of the Swisslinx team will be in touch to discuss your recruitment needs.

The importance of skill-based recruitment

Skill-based recruiting has become all the more important in the modern world of work. While experience will always be valuable, assessing candidates based on skills and holistic competencies, rather than their last job title can pave the way for exceptional talent. Over the years, Switzerland has faced skill shortages in many different fields, so companies must take a skill-based approach to recruitment. Skill-based recruitment places the recruiter in the driver’s seat. It means pursuing all the relevant information to match candidates’ skills with the requirements of the job. Below, we’ve outlined the key benefits of recruiting for skills.   Transferrable skills   Skill-based hiring enables recruiters to find candidates with core expertise that can be applied in a variety of different environments. While candidates with years of direct experience may look like an ideal choice for a role, there’s a chance they might not be as adaptable in a new business. Core skills like problem-solving, interpersonal skills and technical competencies are more likely to be transferrable to other industries, increasing the chances of you make an excellent hire. Simply put, focusing on core skills and personality can be much more beneficial for businesses that are looking to grow, and maintain a clearly defined culture. However, screening candidates for skill and talent rather than previous experience means recruiters will need to pay extra attention to people’s cover letters and CVs. Thanks to recruitment technology, most applications are automatically filtered, helping the recruiter save time and find the ones that match the predefined criteria.   Add Diversity   One of the key benefits of skill-based recruitment is that it can add greater diversity to the workplace. Individuals from different backgrounds and diverse skill sets can add different talents, and experiences to the working environment, which can benefit the organisation. When you focus strictly on candidates with a set amount of experience, you risk missing out on individuals who are otherwise strong candidates. While it can be risky to invest in a candidate who’s less proven, they can bring a diversity of thought across the company with their skill set. Using a skill-based approach combined with “blind hiring” also removes any unconscious bias, enabling hiring managers to make more informed decisions, resulting in a much more diverse workforce.   Focus on potential   When you seek candidates with specialist skills, it allows you to focus more on their potential. New skills and competencies can always be taught whereas highly experienced candidates might have a well-established work style that may not be suited to certain types of companies. We’re now entering an era where professionals are constantly changing career paths, and where the younger generations are starting to dominate the workforce. What younger generations may lack in experience, many of them make up in attitude and digital skills. Taking a skills-based approach to recruitment allows you to expand your talent pool and find potentially great candidates that you may have previously missed.   However, companies must establish systems and internal capabilities that allow for skill-based hiring. This means hiring managers must adjust their mindset and use more skill-based assessments when recruiting, with more discussions about the most critical skills. In this way, businesses can be more organised and match candidates with the appropriate roles.    How can Swisslinx help your business?   Swisslinx has a highly experienced team of consultants who are dedicated to providing the best recruitment service to clients and candidates. We take the time to understand your requirements and then deliver tailored recruitment solutions. Our team recruits the best professionals into a wide range of sectors, including financial services, digital and technology, life sciences, as well as engineering. If you would like more information on how we can assist with your recruitment, contact us today.

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How to be successful in the final round interview

As a candidate, the final round interview is the last opportunity to show why you’re the best person for the role. What happens in the first interview can be dramatically different from the final round, so that’s why it’s all the more important to prepare thoroughly and expect to be asked some challenging questions. Hiring managers do not often make final round interviews for candidates they’re not serious about. Therefore, when you’re invited to the final round, the hiring manager already knows that you have the skills for the job. What they’re going to be looking for is how you present yourself under pressure and whether you’re a suitable fit culturally for the organisation. Here’s a swift guide for how to give yourself the best chance of succeeding in the final round interview and securing a job offer.    Review the company and position   Once you’ve made it to the final round, you need to make sure you completely understand the position and the company. The final round may be much longer and involve more people. This means that professionals should review the job specifications again beforehand and be prepared for in-depth questions. At this stage, hiring managers want to determine fit and whether or not the candidate is a team-player. Companies will also use a final round interview to learn how you manage deadlines and juggle workloads. Hiring in a pandemic is no easy task, so companies will likely be paying extra attention to detail and focusing on the candidates who show the most potential. This means it’s important that you thoroughly research the company and come prepared with what you like about the company. Having that extra preparation will increase your chances of being offered a role.    Share your knowledge and expertise   While many final round interviews will be based on how you fit into the company or the team, hiring managers will still want to verify your technical skills and competencies. So, it’s crucial that you effectively share your knowledge and expertise during the interview, and quantify wherever possible. This means discussing your key accomplishments and how they were achieved, as well as any notable skills relevant to the role. For example, you might have excellent time management skills, so you will need to explain how these skills have helped you perform. Whether it’s through project management software or your strategic planning, you must show the unique qualities you bring to a company. Also, always show confidence and evidence of all your skills and experience.   Ask the right questions   In the early rounds of interviews, it’s important to ask thoughtful questions, but in the final stage, you’re going to need to show you’ve thought more seriously about what it would be like to work at the company. Therefore, professionals in the final round should ask questions about what the first month on the job would be like and if there will be any training, as well as what the performance expectations will be when you join. These type of questions show hiring managers that you’re already engaged and eager to be a part of the company.   Show your commitment and passion   In the final round, hiring managers will want to ensure candidates are interested in staying for a long period. Arguably one of the best ways to show you’re a committed professional is by discussing your long-term career plans, and how it’s connected to the role you're interviewing for. Hiring managers want to find candidates who have a strong work ethic and have the potential to be high performing. This means you need to demonstrate a passion for the industry and that you’re genuinely interested in this specific field. For a company, the final round interview is all about evaluating a candidate’s characteristics and attitude, so make sure you tell stories of how you solve problems and why you enjoy your work, which will no doubt help you stand out from other candidates.   Are you looking to advance your career?   At Swisslinx, we have a motivated and friendly team of recruitment consultants who are dedicated to building great relationships with clients and candidates. We specialise in recruiting for a varied range of sectors, including financial services, digital and technology, healthcare and natural resources. Our team works to the highest standards and we’re committed to delivering an exceptional recruitment service on a daily basis. If you would like more information on how we can help your career and even prepare for your next role, contact our team today.

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