Women dominate Israel's life science industry

Lab Technician.  Photo: Reuters
Lab Technician. Photo: Reuters

70% of employees are women says the Nisha placement company. Salaries are generous but not as high as in IT.

Israel's life sciences sector has been blossoming recently. According to figures from the IVC research company, over 40 biotech startups were founded in 2016. A report by Start-Up Nation Central states that Israeli life science companies raised $800 million last year out of a total of $4.8 billion raised by all Israeli high-tech companies.

Both the new startups and the older companies need employees, and they are paying generous wages. The Nisha job placement company, which is active in placing workers in biomed companies, has compiled data about salary trends in the sector for the first half of 2017 showing that an algorithm developer in a biomed company with 1-3 years of experience earns NIS 18,000-24,000 gross a month. An employee in the same job with over five years of experience earns NIS 30,000-40,000 a month.

In stark contrast to the general high-tech industry, women are a majority in the biomed industry, and it is not confined to the lower levels. Nisha founding partner and biomed manager Lizi Shoov London says, "There are more women than men in biotechnology and pharma, and they also control the industry at the senior levels of VP and CEO. The ratio of women to men is 70-30. This is happening, among other things, because of the relatively high number of women getting an education in the life science professions. While a large proportion of the men undergo retraining for a more remunerative profession, women are willing to accept a lower salary, and will continue on to advanced degrees. In addition, the biomed industry is based far more on knowledge and systematic research than creativity and inventiveness. While 35 year-old CEOs are common in high tech, someone that age in biomed is a youth who has barely finished his studies. The post of CEO is reached only at age 50-55."

According to the figures, a biomed engineer with 1-3 years of experience earns NIS 11,000-15,000 gross a month, a biomed engineer with three or more years of experience earns NIS 15,000-20,000 gross a month, and a biomed engineer with five or more years of experience earns NIS 20,000-30,000 gross a month.

Commenting on these trends, Shoov London said, "There is a lot of hype in the biotechnology market. Although it requires multimillion investments already at the initial stage, and despite the burdensome regulation, it is full of optimism and new starts. The market is growing, and ventures are multiplying and devising effective models that are significantly shortening the regulation processes and the duration of development."

According to Shoov London, the trend in the pharma category is positive, although Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA; TASE: TEVA), a major company, recently laid off employees, which should increase the labor supply. "The market is looking for these people," she says. "There is no vacuum creating unemployment.

"Being over 40 is also not a barrier; on the contrary. Almost everyone finds work, and there is always a demand for experience. Rehovot in the central region and Yokne'am in the north have become important business hubs in the industry."

Shoov London adds that the biomed industry is looking for employees with a lot of education. "No one is settling for a BSc, because that's barely enough to be an unskilled laborer in the industry. Almost all the engineers and managers have MScs, and PhD's are very common. There's something very nice about this industry that people find satisfying; they think less about money, and believe more in their ability to save the world."

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on June 21, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

Lab Technician.  Photo: Reuters
Lab Technician. Photo: Reuters
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