Partnerships – Value That the Bio-economy Needs

Originally published in Biotechnology Focus Magazine, October 2012.

By Rob Henderson, Executive Director, BioTalent Canada

Companies operating in Canada’s vibrant, dynamic biotechnology sector are always looking to get more value from their industry associations. BioTalent Canada is answering the call by committing itself to what the industry needs now.

It has been over six years since BioTalent Canada emerged from its predecessor Biotechnology Human Resources Council (BHRC). With an ever-expanding portfolio of cutting-edge HR products and services, the non-profit national organization is now leveraging its recent accomplishments with a bold and determined new vision for the future.

Today, BioTalent Canada is moving forward with a business approach that will ensure biotech companies gain more value from the association than ever before.

Having joined BioTalent Canada as Executive Director one year ago, I have experienced big changes and seen many new opportunities.

HR Still Key for Canadian Bio-economy

Human resources are incredibly important for of any business, but perhaps even more so in the Canadian biotech sector. Biotech companies that raise the most capital or complete the most successful partnership ventures all employ top-notch talent.
When investors and other potential sources of funding evaluate the opportunity that a company represents, they look not only at the science being developed, but also at the expertise, experience and skills of its team. Having the right staff holds value for partners and investors.

However, one of the main challenges for the bio-economy in Canada is that a vast majority of private-sector organizations — more than 75% — are small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Biotech SMEs have to put a high premium internally on innovation and commercialization which means dedicating fewer resources or personnel to HR; therefore, finding and grooming quality talent is complicated.

That is why BioTalent Canada is re-affirming its engagement to bio-economy companies by providing HR solutions they need, allowing them to concentrate entirely on reaching their business goals.

Looking Ahead to New Initiatives

So, what will this renewed commitment to the industry mean for BioTalent Canada?

First, BioTalent Canada will build on its success by continuing to focus exclusively on HR so that it can add value to bio-economy businesses.

BioTalent Canada will provide new thought leadership in HR solutions, project management, skills development services and labour market analysis. This leadership will complement the research, reports, courses, The PetriDishTM job board and other products that the organization offers to promote skills development within the industry, and to help companies reach the next level.

I have connected with hundreds of SMEs across the country and they all complain that in a tough economy they need more value from their membership and consumer dollar. BioTalent Canada has listened and is now implementing changes to deliver more value to SMEs. We’re excited that BioTalent Canada is creating more partnerships with like-minded biotech industry associations, such as Life Sciences Ontario and the McGill University Health Centre. The plan is for different industry organizations to play more complementary roles, rather than compete or overlap with each other. This will add value to biotech SMEs that are members and patrons of our partners.

Furthermore, to provide added value in the form of practical products and information, in October BioTalent Canada will be launching a new streamlined website that will focus on the business and HR needs of Canadian biotech companies.

Last, BioTalent Canada will be more actively engaged in exchanges with its audiences – job seekers, companies and other associations – via social media and other channels. We want to use the ongoing communication to continue to enhance our offering.

It’s an exciting but challenging time for BioTalent Canada and the industry. With this new approach, and together with our partners, I am confident that we will succeed helping the bio-economy to be a driver of the Canadian business market.

To learn more about BioTalent Canada’s programs and products, visit: