Biotech production challenges and how to solve them

Biotech researcher in a lab setting

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4 min read

Highlights

  • Biotech companies are dealing with the challenge of investor reluctance to take on the risk of investment in biotech products.
  • Stringent FDA requirements contribute to production inefficiencies for biotech.
  • Supply chain risks and a limited supply of industry experts also contribute to challenges for biotech.
  • Strong channel partnerships and collaboration are essential to handle biotech challenges today.

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The biotech sector is in a state of flux due to changing supply change models, emphasis on quality control and quality assurance, and efforts to optimize efficiency and control costs.

The demands of the industry put pressure on biotech producers to deliver quality goods while achieving efficiency. To balance these requirements, companies turn to automation, technology, and collaboration.

Core challenges in biotech production—and solutions

The following is an overview of some of the core challenges in biotech production, along with insights on how to solve them.

Challenge 1: Investor caution

Biotech production is extremely expensive. So too are the research and development and FDA approval processes. There is much risk with biotech investment. Failed development, approval, or commercialization can ruin a fledgling business and put a serious crimp in even more solidified companies.

Because of the risks, it is challenging for private biotechs to obtain financing. It takes a certain type of firm to analyze the risks appropriately and to confidently put millions of dollars into a business or a product. Yet, without funding, it is difficult for biotechs to acquire the necessary facilities, equipment, and people to ensure quality, efficient production processes.

Not only is funding difficult to acquire, but doing so can take a lot of time, meetings, and persuasion. Private investors spend a lot of time analyzing risks and discussing potential investments. The back-and-forth between the biotech firm and the investor can add to delays in research, development, and production.

One of the ways to remediate these financing challenges is to expedite the communications process with investors. As opposed to face-to-face meetings, or as a means of intermittent conversations, biotechs can utilize unified communications systems (UCS). A UCS enables fast, reliable, and consistent interactions across all popular modes of interaction.

 

Challenge 2: Stringent FDA requirements

If it were just a matter of “making something,” biotech production may not suffer as much from delays, inefficiency, and waste. However, in the health and life sciences field, federal regulations and the FDA have strict requirements as to how you make your products and the end results. For these reasons, biotech production is notoriously slow. This factor contributes to the aforementioned uncertainty of investors, who often prefer faster paydays.

To meet FDA requirements and ensure public safety, biotechs generally have more aggressive quality control and quality assurance processes relative to companies in other industries. Quality assurance processes are preventative measures to increase the rate of quality products. Quality control is processes used to identify products that aren’t up to standards.

Naturally, biotechs can’t and don’t want to cut corners on quality processes. However, there are steps to take that could improve production efficiency without sacrificing quality. The following are some examples:

  • Automation. Producers across many industries are focused on automation to speed up various production and ancillary processes. Analytics programs are used to detect product discrepancies earlier in the process. Adjustments are often automated to eliminate the need for manual interventions.
  • Internal collaboration. Better collaboration between production managers, quality control experts, and quality assurance experts can expedite planning and response timelines. Again, a unified communications system enables fast and flexible interactions among leaders in these areas, including planned meetings and impromptu interactions.
  • External collaboration. Similarly, biotech producers need the capacity to interact efficiently with FDA representatives to address any concerns during approval and production processes. Collaboration with industry partners is critical as well.

 

The internal lab within a biotech company

 

Challenge 3: Supply chain uncertainty and risk

One of the most significant obstacles to biotech producers is something that is largely out of their hands. Biotechs rely heavily on a consistent and flexible supply of raw materials needed for production. However, there are sometimes factors that adversely impact the ability of channel partners to meet these expectations.

The pandemic, for instance, created major disruptions to many transportation systems that biotechs rely on to get raw materials in a timely manner. Delays in raw material supply lead to subsequent disruptions to production processes.

Rather than just reacting to adverse circumstances, many biotech producers have gone on the offensive to gain more visibility into their supply chains. Artificial intelligence software is used to identify potential industry bottlenecks. Assessments of materials requirements among competitors also offers some insight into potential supply shortages. Identifying potential disruptions to transportation methods early also allows for faster adjustments to alternatives.

Producers can only do so much on their own to prepare for supply chain issues. Close relationships with channel partners are essential to an effective, collaborative strategy. This is another relationship where a UCS becomes invaluable for agile and efficient interactions. Suppliers can quickly and easily contact producers as soon as issues develop. Producers can similarly reach out to supplier reps at the first sign of trouble.

 

Challenge 4: Limited industry experts

The entire life sciences sector has been hampered by a lack of industry experts. A limited talent pool makes it harder to implement any of the other strategies discussed for resolving production issues. In addition to concerns about available talent, employed experts are so burdened with their workload, that it is harder to keep up with industry trends.

Producers face a double-edged dilemma. They must invest in attracting experts in a limited pool, but they must also invest in training to keep current employees up-to-date.

Increased reliance on automation can help reduce the talent burden. Thus, producers need to consider whether to amplify investment in modern technology, including foundational communications systems, or more people.

 

RingCentral solves biotech bottlenecks

Much of the burden on biotech producers can be managed more effectively through supply chain collaboration. To collaborate, producers need a strong tech infrastructure that includes a top digital communications solution. The right tech setup supports efforts to balance quality with cost-efficient operations.

RingCentral’s unified communications system has enabled companies across numerous industries to optimize communication across all major platforms. It also allows for easy integration with other software solutions and applications popular among producers.

To find out how RingCentral can help your life sciences organization meet its challenges, request a demo today.

Originally published Jul 19, 2022

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