Over the past two years, there has been a steady increase in the demand for qualified professionals in Taipei’s healthcare and life sciences sector, encouraged largely by the biotechnology start-ups that have set up shop in the city.

These companies are not your typical start-ups (i.e. local entrepreneurial ventures that depend largely on external funding), but rather, internationally established companies making their foray into Taiwan, largely attracted by the country’s efficient and affordable healthcare system.

As a result of this trend, the one question that seems to be on most job seekers’ minds are: Should I join a start-up in the biotech industry?

To help address that question, I’ve compiled a list of pros and cons:


  • Be at the frontline of innovation. Many of these start-ups have received strong funding support and are able to invest heavily in research and development. They typically have strong and innovative product pipelines which can help accelerate top-line revenue growth.
  • Better career development. Often, joining start-ups come with benefits like bigger job scopes or better titles. Many professionals currently working in big pharma may find it hard to move up the ranks because of the organisation’s complex hierarchy.
  • Regional visibility. In start-ups, operations are often streamlined and employees tend to report directly to the business’ regional office. If you perform well, you may have improved opportunities to achieve promotions to a regional role. A few of my candidates who joined such start-ups received such promotions after two to three years.
  • Employee stock option plans. To attract and retain talented employees, many start-ups are offering stock option plans. If the company becomes successful and goes public, the stocks that were issued to you before will be worth a lot more.


  • Lack of security. Although these start-ups have strong parent companies, joining these companies is like joining any start-up — you need a leap of faith. There’s no guarantee of success. For example, if the product is not marketed well, or if pricing strategies are unsuccessful, the company’s performance will be greatly affected.
  • A heavier workload. Those moving from big pharma to join start-ups often find themselves having to multi-task and handle heavier workloads and responsibilities. However, to some, taking on more responsibilities is a challenge which they’d gladly undertake as this means greater decision-making power.

This list of pros and cons is by no means exhaustive. Before making a decision, you’d also need to look at a few other factors like the company’s product pipeline or product launch plans. Taiwan usually places a price restriction on medicines and this restraint may affect a company’s performance. If the start-up has solid market access plans, then this means the possibility for growth and success will be high. Similarly, if they hold longer patent periods for their products, the chances of other companies copying – and diluting the market share – of the product will be lower.

Still, at the end of it all, not every candidate is suitable for a start-up role – much depends on one’s attitude and personality. If you’d prefer to specialise rather than multi-task, then start-ups may not be a good fit. Know yourself and you’ll be able to make an informed choice for your next career move.


Before you join a start-up, consider these pros and cons:


  • You will be at the frontline of innovation
  • Better career development
  • Regional visibility
  • Employee stock options plan


  • Lack of security
  • Heavier workloads
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