According to McKinsey & Company in 2021, the biotech industry is experiencing a high, partly due to the pandemic increasing interest in investment. When trying to bring a biotech product to more than one market, it can be difficult to manage the various stages of product development. While larger businesses have in-house teams to cover each area, smaller firms and start-ups can find specialist expertise by outsourcing to skilled and knowledgeable professionals, who can consult and offer insight throughout the product development cycle. To showcase freelancer capabilities in the biotech setting, Ashmita Das, CEO of open talent platform Kolabtree, shares some of Kolabtree freelancer’s success stories.
According to Forbes, 78 per cent of companies will rely on freelancing in 2023 to fill gaps in their workforce, rather than adding full-time permanent staff, because remote working has made it easier to integrate temporary employees. The science and tech sectors have been hit hard by the Great Resignation, but companies across all industries are now struggling with big workloads and a limited workforce. Recruiting biotech freelancers provides businesses with access to experts from all over the world on a short-term basis for specific projects.
Here are some of my favorite biotech projects that our freelancers have worked on:
Developing a protocol for compound extraction
Kaffe Bueno, a Denmark-based coffee company, upcycles coffee by-products that usually go to waste, such as spent coffee grounds (SCG), and turns them into ingredients for cosmetics, nutraceuticals and functional food and beverages. When coffee is brewed, less than one per cent of its compounds are extracted, despite being full of antioxidants, proteins and melanoidins. SCGs are still rich in these proteins and lipids, so Kaffe Bueno fractionates these grounds via distillation into compounds that can be used in everyday products such as soaps, scrubs, snack bars and pizza.
One of their recycling projects involved the development of a new product, which required a food chemistry and supplements scientist to develop different protocols for the extraction of a compound from vegetable oil.
Co-founder of Kaffe Bueno, Juan Pablo Medina, posted this project on Kolabtree and received a proposal within an hour. He chose to hire the first applicant, Dr Marcia Da Silva Pinto, an experienced scientific consultant. Marcia had worked on several new product formulation projects and had specific experience with molecular distillation, which was one of the skills that Juan was looking for. Once Marcia signed an NDA, Juan shared the project details with her and the two collaborated closely on creating the various protocols that were needed. Juan was so happy with the work delivered that he extended the project for another task and posted 20 new projects on the open talent platform.
In total, Kaffe Bueno has hired experts from Kolabtree for 50 projects so far. These include several projects aimed at preserving coffee waste, such as assessing the toxicology data of several compounds through intense data analysis and documentary research. Another similar project involved extensive analysis of fertilizers and pesticides within the coffee industry, deciphering the economic and environmental impacts to help find green alternatives. When posting these projects, Kaffe Bueno often receives instant responses from freelancers, meaning the work can commence sooner.
Usability testing for a reagent selection tool
BenchSci creates AI-assisted platforms that aim to increase the speed of improved medicine being brought to patients. Initially, the company built, tested and validated an AI solution to the antibody reproducibility crisis to reduce experimental failure. Using both experiment-specific text ML and proprietary vision ML models to understand the type of experiment being conducted, the team built relationships between those data points with proprietary bioinformatics ontologies. The results could then be searched by users on the platform. The company then went on to make Project Butterfly — the world’s first evidence-backed map of disease biology, which later was labelled as Ascend, an AI-Assisted Reagent Selection Platform.
When developing the AI-Assisted Reagent Selection Platform, Matan Berson, Head of User Experience at BenchSci, wanted a research scientist to test the prototype and provide feedback prior to its launch. The software aimed to eliminate inefficiencies and errors and select appropriate reagents and model systems in 30 seconds as opposed to twelve weeks.
Matan posted the project on Kolabtree and hired freelancer Katie Stiles within 24 hours. Katie is a research scientist with over 15 years of experience in molecular biology, virology and gene therapy. She was able to test the product and provide useful insights that helped Matan improve his product in just one day. Matan has continued to use Kolabtree freelancers for user testing and user research insights.
As more people seek an improved work-life balance and consider freelancing, there will be increased competition between freelancers. This trend also gives businesses even more access to specialised scientists that not only offer their expertise, but who can also upskill in-house teams. Businesses can select freelancers based on experience and skills to find the perfect match for their project.
In recent years, there has been far greater emphasis on specialisation, with increasing competition between freelancers it has become important to specialise in a particular area or niche. While this allows them to differentiate themselves and stand out in their given field. It also helps businesses identify the freelancers that tick all their boxes and assemble an ideal team for specialised projects.
As shown by Forbes, many businesses are already taking full advantage of the expert gig economy. Freelancers are particularly ideal for companies that are already set up for remote working because many freelancers prefer working from home. Businesses that already promote remote working can easily accommodate external specialists, even in a hybrid setting.
To find specialised expert scientists ready to work, visit https://www.kolabtree.com/ and post a freelance project for free.