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Pau Planas

CEO of Biokit

Pau Planas is an industrial engineer with more than 20 years’ professional experience in activities related to technological and business management in the scientific, industrial and biomedical arenas. He has managed Biokit since 2008 and previously held executive positions at NTE Sener and start-up e-MedicalMonitor. He believes that innovation, internationalization, operational excellence and talent are key to ensuring the future development of the biotech business. He was Vice-President of the Spanish Association of Space Sector Industries (ProEspacio) from 2005 to 2007. 

Gemma Escarré

Biokit is a company devoted to clinical diagnostics, created with private Catalan capital, that exports 98% of its production and has had a growth rate over 10% annually for the past years. The company closed 2011 with €70 millions in sales.

Founded in 1973, the company is now one of the leaders of the Werfen Group, the leading international diagnostic group based in Lliçà d’Amunt (Barcelona).

Thanks to their strategy focusing on both the clinical and technological arenas, Biokit has reached a high level of competence in the field of immunoassays, which are mainly applied in serologic diagnostics and blood-coagulation disorders. Behind this positive evolution, there is also a clear commitment to manufacturing the company’s own innovative products, with 23 new reactives launched to market since 2009.

What are the key factors in your company’s present and future development?

For a company like ours I would point out that operational excellence is the most important aspect in the short term. On the other hand, increased ability to innovate is essential in the middle and long term. And, though it may seem obvious, none of this is possible without talent and leadership.

Of the 230 professionals that work at Biokit, 50% are university graduates. Does the high degree of specialization in your products and a global market require you to recruit a very specific profile of scientists and technicians?

Yes, it’s true; we compete in very specific niche markets in both the clinical and technological arenas, which requires a high degree of specialization in the organization and its functions. But true competitiveness is achieved when these specialties are integrated into multifunctional teams that contribute and share complementary perspectives in order to achieve common goals. And I must admit, though it may be surprising, that qualified workers of a general nature fit well in this model!

What is your HR management policy, taking into account that you are part of the Werfen Group with subsidiaries in the United States?

Being part of a group present around the world, undoubtedly, has clear advantages. For example, it is fairly common for some of our employees to spend some time working at companies from the group in the United States. Additionally, this facilitates benchmarking within the group, which allows us to adopt best practices that have been proven successful in other organizations.

Can you attract the talent you need in Catalonia?

The BioRegion’s relatively small industrial weight makes it difficult to hire professionals with experience in in vitro diagnostics. As a result, it is common to hire professionals from the local biotech and pharmaceutical sector, who then undergo an internal training process. The BioRegion is rich in scientific/technical talent, but one of the challenges we must face as a sector is for part of this talent to acquire competences linked to the industrial processes of product development, manufacturing and support.

Do you have a strategy to attract young talent?

It’s totally natural for companies with a high level of growth to be interested in attracting young talent with the potential for professional development. In our case, we particularly value candidates that have studied and/or worked abroad, for the maturity and initiative this experience gives them. Furthermore, we pay close attention to the candidates’ basic aptitudes and whether or not they fit in the company.

Do any foreigners work at Biokit’s headquarters in Lliçà d’Amunt?

A global company can’t limit itself to hiring only local personnel. For historical and pragmatic reasons, most of Biokit’s employees are local, but our selection processes are incorporating increasingly more personnel from the rest of Spain and abroad. In this sense, the BioRegion and the Barcelona brand have a great potential for attracting talent that must be taken advantage of with specific plans to attract international talent on a sectorial level. We believe that the best success strategy is to attract talent; the best strategies aren’t worth the paper they’re written on without talent.

What employment opportunities do you currently offer?

Beyond the traditional positions in an industrial biotech company, the big opportunities are at the intersection of different competences. For example, managing business development, which requires expertise and a pro-active attitude both in the commercial and scientific arenas. The same is true of managing product development, which combines technological knowledge and project management to increase the reliability of the process and the quality of its results. Or robust biotechnology manufacturing, which applies lean manufacturing techniques to the production of a wide range of biologic products.

You have 80 people working in the R&D department, in which you invest 18% of the company’s turnover. Do you have links to any universities?

Biokit has a long history of collaborating with international research centers and companies. In fact, most of our technology and products have been acquired through collaborative projects, technology transfer, etc. The most recent example is a collaboration with the University of Tsukuba (Japan), which has allowed us to fine tune a highly innovative technology to increase the specificity of our immunoassays.

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