By Kirsten Mayer
Senior Vice President, Client Services

A shortage of qualified personnel and the globalisation of commerce have led to what some may think is a surprising development: Life sciences businesses are combining their research and development (R&D) energies to create more effective talent pooling. Whether this occurs directly between businesses or between commercial enterprise and academia, collaboration is the name of the game and it seems to be paying off.

Big companies like Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline are well-known for their corporate sponsorship of drug development and their willingness to collaborate with other companies in pursuit of new discoveries. On the other side of the coin, R&D collaboration is actively encouraged in academic institutions worldwide, from the Yale School of Medicine to the University of South Wales. Drug developers, in particular, have put aside their secrecy and are actively encouraging a collaborative environment. How can this help with recruiting the right R&D talent for your needs?

Location, location, location

The first step in finding appropriate R&D talent is to identify the most active centres of R&D creativity and to position yourself within reach. With today's technology, this can mean a virtual environment as well as, or instead of, a physical one. It's now possible for collaboration to take place in real time even when the personnel are widely scattered. There are, however, some areas where talent pools are going to be deeper, and as an experienced Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) provider, Cielo can help you market map the best locations to explore for available R&D talent.

Can you depend on talent being in these locations?

At Cielo we have a tried and tested global outreach programme, and our market mapping assessment is based on cutting-edge technology that ensures consistency, compliance, and full transparency. We can identify centres of R&D excellence, where you will frequently find business enterprises working side by side with universities and government-sponsored research institutes. Such innovation hubs exist in, for example, Cambridge Science Park, and there are similar sites in Bangalore and Beijing, where talent is sourced directly from academic and research institutions.

How does internal mobility factor in?

For global corporations, much of the available talent pool is already on their books. But smaller businesses should also take advantage of the qualified staff they already have. Personnel who are qualified in one speciality can be offered additional training and skills development if they transfer, and the hiring process is simpler and faster because they are existing employees. For the multinational company, it's an additional bonus for personnel who want to experience different working environments and cultures, and can transfer to a more active R&D sector if the need arises.


With talent pools emerging across the globe, especially in pharmerging countries like China, Brazil, and Russia, it's possible that you will have to adapt your requirements – in terms of language, at least – to attract the right level of skilled talent. We can help you assess how flexible your company can be when it comes to recruiting R&D personnel and what measures you might need to take to attract international talent.

Adapting the workspace

Technology makes collaboration easy, and colleagues can be working on the same project from opposite sides of the planet. In the era of data sharing and virtual working environments, you may need to think about reconfiguring the R&D work spaces and ways of working to attract the best talent. There are many options for setting up a virtual workplace, where all sorts of functions can be accessed simultaneously and from anywhere using mobile devices. You may also need top-of-the-line computing and AI facilities to offer candidates who are trained in such skills as medical techtronics, genome sequencing, and biometric data analysis. You'll also need the facilities to employ and pay overseas hires.

How do you create advantage against competitor employers?

Once again, the key word here is data. Data capture and analytics, data modelling and re-imagining R&D processes in a digitised form. Pharmaceutical companies are already doing this for the design and testing of new drugs, and automotive manufacturers have virtual models they can walk around in to identify design issues. The more advanced your R&D digitisation is, the more forward-thinking talent you are likely to attract, and the faster you can innovate. Using an RPO like Cielo will also give you an edge, with our streamlined talent sourcing, engagement and hiring platform.


We are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and the future is digital. If you're not already on board with the technology, upgrade now so you can offer the best facilities to the brightest talent. It's also a young environment, so look at universities for those graduates about to take the first step on the employment ladder. Most of all, think big, and think inclusive. The world is at your fingertips, and talented R&D employees just a data platform away.

Connect with Kirsten Mayer on LinkedIn.