Before the “who to recruit” phase, an important question is “where?” We ran through the top countries in which to look for talent in biotech and had a look at what you can expect from each cluster.

For each one of them, we also referenced some data on the biotech, life science and research ecosystems to help you find the most suitable talent pools. Enjoy the reading, and open your recruitment horizon!

(Editor’s note: all sources available at the end of the article)

united states biotech recruiting

Number of Employees in Biotech: 131k

Number of Employees in Life Sciences: 1.4M

Number of Biotech Companies: 2,772

Number of Life Sciences companies: 9,509

Share in Patents filled by Country: 41.54% 

Number of Universities in Top 100: 51

The combination of money (both private and public), top-notch universities and presence of innovative biotechs remains unrivaled in the two main hotspots for the industry in the US: Boston, Massachusetts and the Bay Area of California. Across the country, dozens of high-ranked universities churn out talent, and the biotech industry attracts many more from all over the world.

Despite its recent period of political uncertainty, which also impacts biotech, the well-funded therapeutic industry, the prominence of big corporations and a new crop of startups practically guarantee you can find a qualified employee for any position. The only limit is the cost of these employees — it’s certainly on the high end of the spectrum!

Top Companies to Watch

Boston Pharmaceuticals is one of the most well-funded biotechs and is focused on clinical development of new therapies.

Moderna Therapeutics is developing an early-stage therapeutic mRNA technology and is an authentic money-magnet.

Intellia Therapeutics won the IPO funding race of therapeutic CRISPR.

Intarcia Therapeutics focuses on drug delivery for metabolic diseases like diabetes, raised $225M in its last round.

Gingko Bioworks is at the forefront of the new wave of SynBio startups and has raised €140M.

united kingdom biotech recruiting

Number of Employees in Biotech: 30k

Number of Employees in Life Sciences: 174k

Number of Biotech Companies: 979

Number of Life Sciences Companies: 1,610

Share in Patents filled by Country: 4.06%

Number of Universities in Top 100: 9

The life sciences industry of the UK shines the most on the area of innovative therapeutics. In particular, there is a high number of biotechs with strong early-stage programs and developing platform technologies on key therapeutic approaches, such as novel cell therapy and immuno-oncology.

These young innovative companies often stem from cutting edge research, carried out at the several top universities located in the UK. The most famous example of this dynamism are the biotech clusters around the so-called “Golden Triangle”, connected by the world-class institutes in Cambridge, London and Oxford.

Pharma also has a very strong presence in the UK. It’s the home of two of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, and hosts regional headquarters and facilities for other big names. For therapeutic biotechs, this means a better ecosystem and higher chances of deals. However, pharma collaborations are not the only financial perks of being in the UK. Private financing is healthy as well, boasting the presence of Europe’s wealthiest fund in biotech, the Woodford Capital.

Excellent universities, exciting spin-outs and successful established companies naturally attract a lot of biotech professionals to the UK, making it the number one talent pool in Europe.

Top Companies to Watch

Immunocore develops TCR therapeutics and is the record-holder for the largest private fundraising in Europe.

Oxford Nanopore develops a more portable technology for Next Generation Sequencing and its valuation stands as €2Bn.

F-star develops therapeutic bispecific antibodies, which attracted deals with AbbVie and Denali.

Heptares Therapeutics develops candidates targeting CGRP receptors and is in deals with several Pharma companies, including Pfizer and Allergan, which reach the billion euro threshold.

TauRx it has a late-stage pipeline of innovative therapies for Alzheimer’s disease and its last private fundraising reached €120M.

germany biotech recruiting

Number of Employees in Biotech: 37k

Number of Employees in Life Sciences: 247k

Number of Biotech Companies: 1,042

Number of Life Sciences Companies: 1,876

Share in Patents filled by Country: 7.26%

Number of Universities in Top 100: 4

Germany has the highest number of biotech companies in Europe, as well as companies in the Life Sciences industry in general. Although it’s not as focused on therapeutic biotech as the UK, it has nevertheless a strong pipeline of pre-clinical and clinical candidates in development.

There is also a strong presence of pharma companies, with Merck, Boehringer Ingelheim and Bayer being prominent examples. On the agricultural biotechnology front, Germany is now the European stronghold, with BASF, a growing Bayer and Swiss Syngenta going to Chinese hands.

Many of these life science companies keep their manufacturing in-country, which probably contributes to the record number of employees in the industry. Along with a fair number of top universities and the famous German culture of precision, there’s certainly a lot to offer for biotech recruiters.

Top Companies to Watch

CureVac it’s one of the world-leading companies in mRNA therapeutics and is valued at €1.5Bn.

BioNTech it’s one of the largest European private biotechs and develops different innovative immunotherapies.

Morphosys it owns the largest libraries of recombinant antibodies, 28 of its antibodies are now in clinical trials and it has a market cap of €1.4Bn.

Curetis develops molecular diagnostics for infectious diseases, its market cap is around €97M.

Evotec a success story of CRO-turned-biotech, has a market cap of €980M.

france biotech recruiting

Number of Employees in Biotech: 11k

Number of Employees in Life Sciences: 146k

Number of Biotech Companies: 720

Number of Life Science Companies: 1,112

Share in Patents filled by Country: 4.54%

Number of Universities in Top 100: 4

France’s life science industry is quite diversified, with a good number of biotech companies. Its therapeutic biotech, as a whole, is largely focused on early stage products. More advanced pipelines feature mostly candidates for infectious diseases, where France has a strong tradition – something visible on Lyon’s cluster, for example. Sanofi is the largest pharma in the country and has invested quite a bit in biotech, most notably with the acquisition of Genzyme. Food and cosmetics are other areas where French biotech and pharma do well.

Despite being the home of some of the top VCs in Europe, private fundraising in France lags behind the European average. The same cannot be said for IPOs. In the past ten years, 34 companies have gone public. A significant part of life science companies keeps their R&D in France. As such, France may not have the highest quantity to pick from, but the overall talent present in the country ranks high.

Top Companies to Watch

Cellectis is at the forefront of universal CAR-T therapies and is valued at €675M.

DBV Technologies is on track to “cure” peanut allergies with a patch and has a market cap of €1.5Bn.

Erytech wants to make red blood cells into medicine carriers, its market cap is around €105M.

Global Bioenergies is developing biofuels, is approaching commercial scale and has a market cap of over €81M.

Amoeba is based on a biological solution for inconvenient or dangerous biofilms and could replace traditional biocides.

belgium biotech recruiting

Number of Employees in Biotech: 15k

Number of Employees in Life Sciences: 60k

Number of Biotech Companies: 256

Number of Life Science Companies: 515

Share in Patents filled by Country: 1.20

Number of Universities in Top 100: 2

Belgium Biotech has had its share of success stories in Biotech, such as being able to attract Biocartis from Switzerland, which went on to raise €100M, and the record-holding €277M IPO of Galapagos. It has a reasonable number of Biotechs and a good Pharma presence, including UCB. Belgium also has the highest proportion in Europe of Life Sciences companies that carry manufacturing in-country.

Additionally, the facilities of Sanofi-Genzyme, currently in expansion, are located in Belgium. In particular, the region of Wallonia has life sciences as a strategic interest, something mirrored in Belgium’s high-performing universities. All in all, it’s a biotech cluster to keep in mind when looking for talent.

Top Companies to Watch

Galapagos studies and develops therapies for novel targets, mostly in high-interest conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, and is valued at €2.8Bn.

Ablynx owns Nanobodies, smaller antibody fragments, and has a market cap of €800M.

Biocartis develops molecular diagnostics for personalized medicinewith a market cap of €460M.

TiGenix has stem cell therapies for different indications in the clinic, its market cap exceeds €170M.

Celyad is developing cell therapies for immuno-oncology and cardiology, has a market valuation of over €180M.

switzerland biotech recruiting

Number of Employees in Biotech: 20k

Number of Employees in Life Sciences: 105k

Number of Biotech Companies: 346

Number of Life Sciences companies: 727

Share in Patents filled by Country: 1.95

Number of Universities in Top 100: 4

Switzerland is mostly focused on innovative therapeutic biotech and medtech. It’s the home to Actelion and the Pharma giants Novartis and Roche, along with a high number of global and regional HQs, often serving as a base for business in the EMEA region. Matching the country’s reputation of deep pockets, private financing in Swiss Biotechs is only second to that of the UK.

This makes it good for business (and talented executives), but that’s not all. Despite being one of the most expensive countries, R&D and manufacturing are still strong. One example is the $1Bn investment of Biogen in facilities in Geneva. Couple that with 4 excellent universities, and one has a Biotech talent hotspot.

Top Companies to Watch

Actelion is soon to be acquired by Janssen for a humble €27Bn, but for a short time remains the most successful Biotech of Europe.

Basilea focuses of novel antibiotics, along with some candidates for treatment resistance in oncology, and has a market cap of €830M.

CRISPR Therapeutics the leader of human therapeutic applications of CRISPR in Europe.

Molecular Partners develops a new class of small protein therapeutics, with a market cap of €395M.

Neurimmune develops antibody therapeutics for age-related diseases and has a candidate in Phase III trials for Alzheimer’s.


Written by Pact&Partners

Pact & Partners is a top Executive search firm dedicated to Life Sciences since 1987. The firm has appointed thousands of professionals all over Europe, North America and South America and has offices in Boston, Miami, New York, Paris, London, Copenhagen, Lausanne and Dubai. Pact & Partners specializes in recruitment missions for a wide range of sectors including: Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnologies, Medical Devices, MedTech, Digital Health, Gene and Cell Therapy, Hospitals and Clinics, Cosmetics, Dermatology, Nutrition, Bioenergy, Biofuel, and the Animal Health Industry. Get a quote or contact Pact & Partners at: http://pactandpartners.com/ or by phone: US Headquarters – 50 Milk Street Boston, MA 02109, +1 (617) 370-8138 / European Headquarters – 125 Avenue des Champs Elysées 75008 Paris, France, +33 1 53 43 83 00


Sources used in the article:

  • Number of companies per country: Biotechnology Report 2016, Beyond Border, Returning to Earth, by EY
  • Number of employees per country and data on Universities: Site Selection for Life Sciences Companies in Europe, by KPMG
  • Data on patent: OECD Key Biotech indicators
  • Data on US industry: BIO Organization

Cover image from DanielW /Shutterstock

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