Biotech & Life Sciences

Industry Profile

Overview of the Industry
The life sciences industry, also referred to as Biotech, includes businesses, organisations and research institutions dedicated to protecting and improving organism life. They include biomedicine, pharmaceuticals, biophysics, neuroscience, cell biology, biotechnology, and nutraceuticals. And also food processing, cosmeceuticals, life systems technologies, environmental sciences etc.

The scientific discipline involves research and development (R & R&D) of plant, animal, and human life. It is a subdivision of the life sciences industry. For human health, the life sciences and the industry is essential to figuring out the nature and severity of diseases. Environmental science is a subcategory in this industry. It helps protect our environment. Biopharmaceuticals, biomedicine, nutraceuticals and life systems technologies. These deal with the research and development of medicines and supplements.

Global View
The global biotechnology market grew to $793.87 billion in 2021. It is estimated to grow 8.7% CAGR from 2021 to 2030. North America is the largest segment of the biotechnology market; in terms of region. The booming biotechnology market in North America is due to the increase in cases of chronic disease and the increased spending on research and development activities in the USA. The United States of America is the global biotechnology innovation capital centre. 

The Asia-Pacific region is the fastest-growing region in the biotechnology market. Due to increased R&D investment, increased use and availability of biopharmaceuticals for illness and disease treatment, and increased disease diagnosis awareness. However, because the developed markets are somewhat saturated, the Asia-Pacific region represents an exceptional potential for venture capitalists and investors.

The Agricultural Biotechnology sector in the Middle East and Africa was worth $3.16 billion in 2021. It is estimated to grow at 10.78%, to reach $4.76 billion by 2026. 

Around 1% of the Nigerian GDP is allocated to science and technology, of which Biotechnology is a small subset.

There is no currently available data on Africa’s biotech industry. For related data, check the pharmaceutical industry.

Biotechnology is an emerging sector in Ghana, and the market size isn’t readily available. 

The Government of Ghana (GOG) recognises the potential of biotechnology as a critical innovation in the quest for national food and nutrition security. The new administration’s “Planting for Food and Jobs” initiative seeks to drastically increase food security and domestic production of key crops such as maise, rice, and soybean. The provision and usage of improved inputs are crucial to this initiative. Biotechnology (while not explicitly stated in the initiative) can be critical in achieving the government’s goals. In current commercialisation efforts, progress has been made, especially regarding plant biotechnology.

Science, technology and innovation are part of Ghana’s development vision, including improving its health outcomes. However, little research has been conducted on Ghana’s capacity for health innovation to address local diseases. Ghana has strengths that could underpin future science-based health innovation, including health and biosciences research institutions with solid foreign linkages and donor support. Additionally, a relatively strong regulatory system is building capacity in other West African countries. And also the beginnings of new funding forms such as venture capital and professionals returning from the diaspora, bringing expertise and contacts. Individual entrepreneurs are developing some health products and services in Ghana. They include essential medicines, raw pharmaceutical materials, new formulations for paediatric use and plant medicines at various stages of development.

Kenya is in the top three African countries practising biotech crops such as cotton and maize. Modern biosafety and biotech laboratory facilities are available at the University of Nairobi, KARI, ILRI and Kenyatta university. In addition, experts are being trained worldwide for best practices. With the capacity for modern biotech R and D, Kenya’s research institutions, such as the NCST, lead the forefront of modern biotech in Kenya, as they have access to global information. In addition, the University of Nairobi laboratory is supported by UNEP-GEF to carry out and detect GMOs.

There is no currently available data on Nigeria’s biotech industry. For related data, check the pharmaceutical industry.

South Africa
According to a Deloitte report, South Africa is the continent’s most prominent life sciences market, with an estimated USD3.2 billion in sales. In addition, South Africa is among the African countries that have taken initiatives to develop the biotechnology industry to meet the persistent challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Several grants and incentives have been put in place by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to assist the expansion of value-adding economic activities, particularly those of life sciences businesses. Such incentives are crucial for helping the life sciences sector, but the government can do more to improve their promotion and accessibility.

Heightened focus on immune cell function
Immunity is one exciting aspect of the life sciences. The heightened focus could prevent the spreading of harmful diseases that might result in a devastating epidemic, especially in developing regions.

Personalised medicine through advancements in genetics
Many experts have discovered that some conditions are inheritable through genetic coding. It implies that healthcare can be more customised based on DNA information or other genome features and ushers a new era of personalised healthcare.

Innovative Collaboration among Biotechnology organisations
The life sciences industry is constantly developing due to its collaborative nature. As a result, biotechnology companies are expected to join forces with other related health sciences organisations to push innovation. A great example of this was when in May of 2019, four companies, namely Arzeda, Twist Bioscience, Labcyte, and TeselaGen, partnered to create a modern assembly platform for the DNA.

Gene Editing
Genetic engineering opens up applications in gene therapy for the treatment of genetic disorders and other conditions. Additionally, it aids gene-editing techniques by adding, replacing, or silencing particular genes. 

 Precision Medicine
Biotech startups use precision medicine to identify new drug targets, discover novel drugs, offer gene therapies, and develop new drug delivery technologies.

Faster Gene Sequencing
Sequencing presents a fast and cheap method to detect microbes. They range from detecting pathogens in clinical and dairy samples to beneficial soil microbes. Biotech startups are innovating: with new sequencing technologies, as well as unique applications for gene sequencing.

Bioprinting with bio-inks developed from bio-based materials or biomaterials enables the development of bone, skin, or vascular grafts from the patient’s cells for personalised medicine. Some startups leverage bioprinting for rapid prototyping and the development of biopolymers.

Incorporation of genetics in treatment
There will be an increase in the integration of genetic information to assess and treat disorders. Additionally, gene technology will help researchers identify genome sequences that can predict diseases in humans and animals.

Presently, there are experiments in gene editing that could potentially prevent diseases and other genetic conditions. Studies like these will continue to rise as more genetic diseases—are discovered. 


Bioreactor design and fabrication using virtual manufacturing tools
Industrial enzymes production
Bio-prospecting, molecular biology and pharmaceutics
Effective and safe herbal combinations therapy for malaria, hypertension, diabetes, etc
National inventory of medicinal aromatic and pesticidal plants of Nigeria
Development of intellectual property rights for traditional medicine
National inventory and characterization of animal genetic resources

SDG 2: Agricultural biotechnology is essential in helping to feed a growing world population by producing healthier and more productive crops; and reducing food waste by extending the shelf life of produce. It helps farmers increase their incomes and reduce the risk of climate change. 

SDG 3:  To achieve good health and well-being, biotechnology companies develop drugs that help people live longer and healthier. Life science companies produce vaccines and other tools to prevent and contain epidemics. In addition, they detect and diagnose conditions sooner and with greater accuracy and precision.

SDG 7:  Biofuels, a cleaner and more sustainable energy source, are produced from renewable biomass feedstocks. They can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by substituting hydrocarbons in transportation fuel. 

SDG 13: 
To combat and cope with CLIMATE CHANGE, biotechnology: 

  • Replaces traditional energy sources with cleaner fuel options; 
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions by using GM crops; and 
  • Provides solutions for subsistence farmers combating the effects of climate change.


High R&D costs
The high costs of going from the laboratory to creating products for human use is a global problem. Therefore, several universities and research institutes have perfected the practice of technology transfers. Universities or research institutes transfer the knowledge, findings and skills (Intellectual property) to other organisations where it is developed: into a marketable product.

Low R&D productivity

Environmental Damage
There is some concern against genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Production/Laboratory Safety
Some technologies, normally nonbiological, create commercial production lines even before they are tested for safety. Another concern is the protection of technicians in a laboratory even under protected conditions, especially when working with unidentified virulent organisms.

Several biological toxins and infectious organisms could be used to attack animals, humans and plants. 

Ethical Issues
Many ethical questions stem from the suitableness of licensing genetic inventions and many other IP issues, like genetic cloning etc. These go against the religious beliefs of many people.

Artificial Intelligence
AI enables BioTech startups to automate a wide range of processes, helping them scale up their operations.

Big Data
BioTechnology today has a tremendous amount of data available. Big data & analytics solutions allow BioTech startups to tap into this wealth of data to drive innovation.

Smart Technology to assess and treat patients using drugs
Smart Technology will improve: by integrating assessment devices such as MRI scans, laboratory equipment, and in-patient monitors and management tools. Doctors will have the ability to combine the data needed to prescribe the correct medication for the patient. 

Increased digitalised assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of patients
Digital technology has transformed businesses over the years allowing for better access to consumers and improved marketing strategies for companies. Digitalisation in the life sciences industry will increase through online assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of patients.

Data integration and management
In the early days of data management, data analysts found it difficult to gather, organise and interpret important information for life sciences research and system operations. The innovation of cloud management will enable data management professionals to collect and clarify data. There is also increased use of cloud-based technologies such as DNA sequence editing, designing and running experiments, analysing data, and sharing research like Benchling.

Biomedical Scientist, Biotechnologist, Biochemist, Biophysicists, Computational Biologist, Epidemiologists, Microbiologist, Clinical Research Associate, Industrial Pharmacist, Research Assistant, Bioinformatician, Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists, Chemical Technicians, Biological Technicians, Medical Scientists, Medical and Clinical Laboratory, Technologists and Technicians.

The jobs with the highest paying salaries include:
Biomedical Engineer, Biochemist and Biophysicists, Biotechnology Research Scientist, Biomanufacturing Specialists, Medical Scientists, Microbiologists

  1. Creativity & Critical Thinking. A lot of research and development work in the life sciences industry involves understanding the relationships between ideas: producing new ideas, solving problems, and creating opportunities.
  2. Continual Learning & Adaptation. The rate at which innovation and research happens in the biotechnology industry requires staying up-to-date with the latest happenings to apply to current research and processes.
  3. Communication & Persuasion. Working in the life sciences industry requires expressing clearly in writing, speaking and other forms of communication. Proper communication skills are necessary to collaborate with and influence others toward achieving a desired goal.
  4. Analysis & Problem-Solving. Research in life sciences involves understanding and breaking down a problem. It is crucial to understand the challenges, identify the key elements and issues and suggest solutions while envisioning the implications of different approaches. You should have the ability to discover solutions and apply what you know in getting tasks done.
  5. Teamwork and Networking. These skills are useful for collaborative work: from research scientists to technicians and clinicians, ensuring synergy across several disciplines.
  6. Digital Skills: The primary digital skill required in Biotechnology include:

Data Analysis/Analytics and Visualisation: 
It involves extracting, examining and exploring data to find the information it may provide. Additionally, it is the graphical representation of data to communicate information. 

Modern data analytics allow biotechnology companies to decode entire genomes faster and cheaper.

Medical researchers use data analytics tools to get insights into genetic mutations and gene sequences. They then use this information to find relationships between genes and the effect of new drugs.

Data analytics allow researchers to find answers to complex medical questions. For example, why do some diseases affect certain races of people, or why do some people become ill after a particular stage of life.


Data analytics in genomics can help identify the hereditary genes within families. In addition, it can help find cures for inherited diseases and disabilities.

  • Machine Learning: the development of data models and applications to learn from data to improve prediction accuracy and make or provide information. Machine Learning with artificial intelligence is used in drug discovery. Machine Learning helps discover molecules with therapeutic benefits that depend on known target structures. Machine Learning is also helpful in disease diagnosis as it uses accurate results to improve the diagnostic tests.

Specific degrees or courses are native to the industry. Although a Bachelor’s degree in a life sciences course provides a solid background for a career in the industry. An undergraduate degree in a related science course, like chemistry or physics, is valuable. A Master’s degree in biotechnology or other life sciences course gives you the chance to focus on a specific subfield. Most graduate programmes require a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.

Life science courses include:,
Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, Biotechnology, Genetics and Molecular Biology, Human, Biology, Medical Biology, Biomedical Science, Forensic Science, Medical Laboratory Science, Medicine and Surgery, Nutrition (Exercise and Health) , Nutrition (Human Nutrition), Pharmacology, Pharmacy, Sport Science

The life sciences industry covers; a wide range of jobs and roles regardless of background or specific expertise. There are choices as to which area to work in based on your location, preferences, skills and capabilities. There is constant room for career development and individual growth in the industry. 

An internship makes you familiar with the nature of the work performed in the industry. It can also help your application; to a postgraduate program, especially if you do not yet have professional experience. 

Working for a large global business (e.g. Pfizer or Novartis) means fierce competition to enter as these companies transition to a leaner, more focused enterprise with smarter investment choices. As a result, startups will rapidly increase your skills level: as typically, you work across several departments. 

There is also room for professionals without a specific science background, especially those interested in a commercial or business role. Some roles might require you to move a lot or even relocate cities. 

Organisations in growth mode can be fast-paced with high expectations for performance.


The International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB)
Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)
International Council of Biotechnology Associations (ICBA)

Biotechnology and Molecular Biology Association of Ghana, Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute

Kenya Medical Laboratory Technicians and Technologists, Society for Biotech Farmers of Kenya, Biochemistry and Biotechnology Professionals Society of Kenya

Biotechnology Society of Nigeria (BSN), Pharmacists Council Of Nigeria (PCN), Pharmaceutical Society Of Nigeria, Nigerian Society of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (NSBMB)

South Africa
South African National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI), Africa-Bio, National Bioinformatics Network of South Africa.

Jennifer Doudna, Rudolf Jaenisch, Uğur Şahin, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi

Yaw Bediako, David Anini Boah, Aaron Tettey Asare, Kafui Akakpo, Emmanuella Amoaka

Francis Mulaa, Kelvin Mtai, Walter Otieno, Chebet Lesan, Elizabeth Wanjiru Wathuti

Abasi Ene-Obong (CEO 54gene), Dr Oladipo Elijah Kolawole (Founder, Helix Biogen Institute)

South Africa
Richard M. Cowling, PhD, Brenda Wingfield, Nicole Rielly, Antonio Llobell.

US: FDA (the Food and Drug Administration)
EU: EMA (the European Medicines Agency)

National Biosafety Authority, Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, Food and Drugs Authority, Ghana Standard Authority, Environmental Protection Agency, Customs Services, Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate, Veterinary Services Directorate, Institutional Biosafety Committees

Kenya Biotechnology Information Centre, National Biotechnology Advisory Committee, The National Safety Authority, National Council for Science and Technology, Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation, Department of Public Health, Department of Veterinary Service, Kenya Bureau of Standards, National Environmental Management Authority, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Industrial Property Institute, National Biosafety Authority, The Public Health Department

National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), National Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC)

South Africa
National Biotechnology Advisory Committee (NBAC), Department of Science and Technology, South African Research and Innovation Managers Association (SARIMA).

Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Pfizer, Novartis, Amgen, Sanofi, AbbVie, GlaxoSmithKline

Bayer, Eli Lilly and Co, Gilead Sciences, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Allergan, AstraZeneca, Abbott, Novo Nordisk, Novartis, Biogen, Takeda Pharmaceutical, Regeneron, MSD (Merck Sharp & Dohme), Intellia Therapeutics, Elanco, Novavax, 10x Genomics, Horizon Therapeutics, Ultragenyx, BeiGene, BioMarin, Incyte, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Eisai Pharmaceutical, Genmab, Astellas, Seagen, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Daiichi Sankyo, Zoetis, Stryker Corporation, 

Cellarity, Kriya Therapeutics, Bionaut Labs, Century Therapeutics, EQRx, Orna Therapeutics. Endogena Therapeutics, Omne Possibile, Scailyte, Biosplice, Ginkgo Bioworks. Beam Therapeutics, Auris Health, Cerevel, Century Therapeutics, Passage Bio. Maze, Ribon, 10x Genomics. 

Yemaachi Biotech, Greenway International Foundation, DasPharma, Ernest Chemicals Limited, Atlantic Lifesciences Limited, M&G Pharmaceuticals Limited, Pharmanova Limited, Phyto-Riker Pharmaceuticals Limited, Crescent Chemist Company Limited, Letap Pharmaceuticals Limited, Asterisk Lifesciences Ghana Limited, Masnas El Limited, Carel Logistics Limited, Universal Hospitals Group Limited, Worldwide Healthcare Limited, Starwin Products Limited, Shelys Pharmaceuticals Limited, Ayrton Drug Manufacturing Company Ltd, Liner Med and Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Alhaji Yakubu Herbal Company Limited, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals (Pty) Limited Ghana, Amponsah-Efah Pharmaceuticals, Phillips Pharmaceuticals Ghana, Parkerstein Ghana Limited, Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals

GSK, Bayer, IQVIA, Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Pfizer, Novartis, Merck, Sanofi, Eli lily and company, Novo Nordisk, Boehringer Ingelheim, AstraZeneca, Merck KGaA, B.Braun, Phastar, Pioneer, Elanco, KEBS, Viatris, Ben Venue, Square pharmaceuticals, Shalina Healthcare, F-star, Njimia pharmaceuticals, Drugs for neglected diseases initiative, BF Suma pharmaceuticals, Purity products, Kusum healthcare, KARI, ILRI, University of Nairobi laboratory.

Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Roche, bioMérieux, Bayer, Novo Nordisk, Merck KGaA, IQVIA, Sanofi, Aspen Pharmacare, Shalina Healthcare, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Inc., Veeda Clinical Research, Ranbaxy, Unique Pharmaceuticals, Greenlife Pharmaceuticals, Boehringer Ingelheim

54gene, Eurekan Biotech, Helix Biogen Institute, Proteinea

South Africa
Lamelle, Blue Planet PTY Ltd, Creative Biolabs, Merah Mas Industrial Biotech, Plantbio, Bcf Solutions, Proteinone, Applied Biosystems South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Blue Planet SA pty ltd, Ecozymes SA (Pty) Ltd, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inqaba Biotechnical Industries (Pty) Ltd, DNAbiotec (Pty) Ltd, Bio brand, Biotech Laboratories (Pty) Ltd, Smith & Nephew (Pty) Ltd, Bioclones, Uniclox, AgriProtein, Ethomed, LifeQ, AzarGen Biotechnologies, Genius Biotherapeutics, 3×4 Genetics.

Nature Biotechnology
CellNature Communications

The Darwin International Conference
The Festival of Genomics & Biodata
Euro-Global Conference on Biotechnology and Bioengineering

A View On
Talking Biotech
Sounds of Science
First Rounders
The Readout LOUD,
Science Friction

Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves
by George Church and Ed Regis
Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotechby Sally Smith Hughes

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Her-2: The Making of Herceptin, a Revolutionary Treatment for Breast Cancer by Bazell Robert

Movies/TV Shows
The Andromeda strain
Altered Carbon
Orphan Black