The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for societies and economies all around the world. With our Tyto Tech 500 research, we also found an evident shift in two powerful business sectors: Health Technology and Biotechnology. As the world adapted to a rapidly changing situation, the business and science world shifted with it in the hope of solving a worldwide issue. From the creation, approval, and rollout of various COVID-19 vaccines to the care and treatment of covid patients, this past year we were able to witness one of the fastest and most coordinated responses to a global health situation.
The heavy reliance on social media and digital tools gave a strong presence to spokespeople and influencers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regular information updates about the pandemic were frequently broadcasted via these channels, and health tech and biotechnology experts were in the spotlight more than ever before. As the much-anticipated vaccine was developed, citizens seeking clarification or trustworthy information about the state of COVID-19 prevention and treatments worldwide listened more to expert voices. As societies came together in the online world, the patterns of health information seeking changed. These influencers became reliable sources in overcoming issues of misinformation and, in many cases, made a compelling case towards campaigning for social distancing, vaccinations and staying home.
Our research has proven that the COVID-19 pandemic led to not only a rise of Green Technology and its representatives, but also an increase in the number of relevant people from the Biotechnology and Health Technology sectors. The role of epidemiologists, immunologists and many other health experts has been vital during this process. Their strong media presence has turned people such as Kate Bingham, Özlem Türeci, Uğur Şahin, and Chris Whitty into some of the most influential figures in Europe over the past year.
The BioTech and HealthTech bubble: Influencers in business, investors, and academics
The Tech 500 2021 report that we have just published confirms this rise of the BioTech and HealthTech spaces. Each year in this report, we examine the technology sectors in the UK, Germany and France and rank the most influential individuals based on their online and offline presence. The number of BioTech influencers has grown by 69% and the volume of HealthTech influencers has increased by 35%. In 2021, one in 10 influencers in the Top 500 list across the UK, Germany and France belongs to one of these two sectors.
This rise of the HealthTech and BioTech sectors is also substantial in the pan-European ranking of the 500 most influential people, where these categories combined now make up 9.4% of the total amount of influencers. For comparison, this combined force of HealthTech and BioTech influencers is greater than the number of ConsumerTech influencers or FinTech influencers we have identified for our European Tech 500 list, which are the second and third most prevalent tech sectors in our ranking.
If we look at the professional groups to which the most influential personalities in these sectors belong to, the most prominent group is the Business Leaders category, representing 67% of the HealthTech and BioTech influencers in our ranking of the 500 most influential individuals across the three countries we examined. Furthermore, in line with the increased relevance of spokespeople or media professionals during the pandemic that we previously mentioned, journalists are the second biggest professional group, contributing 21% of the total. The third largest professional group in the HealthTech and BioTech categories are the Academics, making up nearly 9% of the pan-European total.
Although HealthTech and BioTech influencers in the Government category make up only 6.3% of the total, one of the most influential individuals in Europe belongs to this category. Professor Chris Whitty is at the top of HealthTech ranking, a British physician and epidemiologist serving as Chief Medical Officer for England and Chief Medical Adviser to the UK Government since 2019. Whitty, who has also served as the Head of the National Institute for Health Research, has played a vital role in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of Whitty’s closest collaborators during this time is ranked second in the HealthTech sector: Patrick Vallance. This British physician, scientist, and clinical pharmacologist has served as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government since 2018. Their two Twitter accounts combined have more than half a million followers, which again validates the importance of these Government officials as sources of trustworthy information during the pandemic.
Another key figure is Kate Bingham, managing partner at venture capital firm, SV Health Investors, who is ranked as the most influential person in the BioTech sector according to our analysis. Bingham’s influence grew in the past year following her appointment as chair of the UK Government’s Vaccine Taskforce, steering procurement of vaccines and the strategy for their deployment during the Covid-19 pandemic. Behind her in the ranking are two of the leading figures from the German biotechnology company BioNTech: co-founder and Chief Medical Officer since 2018, Özlem Türeci, and the firm’s CEO, German oncologist, and immunologist Uğur Şahin. Finally, at 4th place in the BioTech top 10, we identified an exceptionally important figure in the French biotechnology industry: Stéphane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna, manufacturer of the Moderna vaccine or mRNA-1273.
These are the top 10 BioTech and HealthTech influencers in the Tyto Tech 500:
- Kate Bingham – SV Health Investors (UK)
- Özlem Türeci – BioNTech (DE)
- Prof. Dr. Ugur Sahin – BioNTech (DE)
- Stéphane Bance – Moderna (FR)
- Paul Hudson – Sanofi (FR)
- Mark Livingstone – Pistoia Alliance (FR)
- Victoria Gill – BBC (UK)
- Greg Winter – MRC Laboratory (UK)
- Steve Bates – Bio Industry Association (UK)
- François Balloux – UCL Genetics Institute (UK)
- Chris Whitty – UK Government (UK)
- Patrick Vallance – UK Government (UK)
- Jens Spahn – German Government (DE)
- Sajid Javid – UK Government (UK)
- Karol Sikora – University of Buckingham (UK)
- Sarah Boseley – The Guardian (UK)
- Nick Triggle – BBC (UK)
- Matt Morgan – Cardiff University (UK)
- Ian Jones – Independent consultant (UK)
- Zaria Gorvett – BBC (UK)
Want to know who are the biggest tech influencers in the UK, Germany and France? Download the full Tyto Tech 500 report here.