Luke Timmerman On Finding Biotech Work

Sep 25, 2013

The biotech industry took a big hit during the recession, and it can still be difficult in this area to find and keep work in that field. But for those looking to enter the industry there are a few things you should keep in mind. Luke Timmerman, the national biotech editor at Xconomy, an online business and technology blog, explains what you should consider before taking a job in biotech and the challenges of the industry.

He recently wrote an article called, “Don’t Be Naïve: 7 Things to Know Before Taking a Biotech Startup Job.” A few of his tips include researching where the company is in its development, getting to know senior management and really understanding your role and growth potential in the company.

According to Timmerman, biotech companies are starting to hire more after years of recession-related belt tightening. From 2011 to 2012 there was a 13 percent increase in employee headcount at companies listed in the Nasdaq biotechnology index.

Timmerman explained that the biotech industry faces particular challenges in funding.

It has always been a speculative business. You have to spend a lot of money and a lot of time to find out if you're right. Investors have found that it takes a lot longer and a lot more money and there are worse odds than they thought.

In Seattle,  former governors Gary Locke and Christine Gregoire touted the South Lake Union area as the next epicenter for the biotech industry; however online retailer Amazon became the major anchor tenant of the area.

As a result, Timmerman said that Seattle does not have the critical mass of biotech clusters. When funding falls or acquisitions force layoffs, people are not able to move to another company in the area and may have to look to other parts of the country, like Boston.

Timmerman recommends that young scientists focus on networking and researching companies, including acquiring an understanding on how the business operates. Graduates, he said, are not taught in school how to look up a company's venture capital and how much the company spends per year.

Timmerman spoke with Ross Reynolds today.

Produced by Amina al-Sadi.