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ANNUAL REVIEW | LABORATORY INFORMATICS GUIDE 2016


cloud-based Platform for Science informatics infrastructure. The aim was to create flexibility in laboratory data management systems, because the library of pre-built applications enables immediate integration of multiple data sources, including instruments, collaborators, and third party solutions, without custom coding. Similarly, GoInformatics is a software as a service (SaaS) specialist, offering easily accessible tools that did not require months to implement and that small-to-medium sized laboratories or CROs could afford. The launch of the app store followed a few


months after Core Informatics launched its Core Collaboration software – a secure platform for data-sharing that had been developed specifically to support partnerships within and between the life sciences industry, academia, and service providers. Kevin Cronin, the company’s chief commercial officer, explained: ‘Core Collaboration complements our existing ELN (electronic laboratory notebook), LIMS (laboratory information management system) and SDMS (scientific data management system) packages that make up the Platform for Science concept, which we offer as an Amazon Web Services-hosted platform as a service (PaaS) solution.’ Becoming an early client of Amazon Web


Services was probably one of the pivotal decisions in the foundation of Core Informatics, and the firm is now recognised as an AWS APN Life Sciences Competency Partner. Offering the software through the cloud means that clients can use as much or as little of the platform as they need, without any major reconfiguration. It is accessible on any web-enabled platform, from smartphone to desktop. For customers with requirements preventing the use of the cloud, on- premises deployments are also available. ‘Our platform is less about replacing


existing LIMS technology, and more about providing solutions that address the informatics bottlenecks in today’s life sciences arena,’ Cronin stressed. ‘Thermo Fisher Scientific, for example, uses Core’s Platform for Science in its NGS environment. And the crop science giant, Syngenta, uses our platform for its global greenhouse nurseries.’ Core Informatics is growing, and Cronin said


it can now confidently answer one of the more common questions that a young informatics company faces from a prospective client: ‘We like your technology and want to support innovation, but will you still be around in four to five years’ time?’ Several of the companies with whom Core Informatics is now signing deals had been looking at the technology three or four years ago,


but were not ready to commit to a platform that they were not convinced would still be supported a few years down the line. In a similar fashion to Core’s app store,


GoInformatics released its Resource Management System solution in October 2014, offering a cloud-based tool to locate, allocate, reserve and track the usage of resources – whether of laboratory space, biological or chemical samples, equipment or analytical instrumentation, or even staff – and which can be fully integrated with the company’s cloud-based GoLIMS inventory tracking system and electronic laboratory notebook (ELN). Prior to the GoInformatics release, there was


no cloud-based tool that could achieve this level of resource visibility and control, according to J J Medina, senior director of product strategy at the Indiana-based firm. Interestingly, it was developed initially for a company working in the field of cadaveric bioskills labs, which needed to be able to locate, reserve, assign, and monitor the use of valuable human tissue samples. ‘However, we quickly realised the potential utility of this level of enterprise-wide resource management functionality for multiple life science and medtech sectors. Consequently, we developed the Resource Management System as a flexible tool that can be applied to any R&D environment,’ Medina explained. Laboratories


There are many R&D and contract


research organisations that cannot spend $50k-$100k on a LIMS


can now link all experiments recorded using the GoInformatics ELN to inventory and high- level resource management, as well as compare budgets with actual costs, and supply metrics to relevant departments for analysis. GoInformatics was established in April


2010 to offer SaaS to small-to-medium sized laboratories or CROs. ‘There are many R&D and contract research organisations that cannot spend $50k-$100k on a LIMS’, Medina pointed out. However, the firm has found that large multinational companies are now also turning to the cloud. GoInformatics’ partnership with Johnson & Johnson’s medical device business, which started in June 2014, is a prime example of global industry taking the cloud on board. The medical device industry has been a


major client sector for GoInformatics. ‘There is a $16 billion medical device industry in our home region of Indiana, and the R&D labs of companies including Zimmer, Medtronic, and Stryker represent major opportunities for us,’ Medina pointed out. GoInformatics has also built


strong links with customers in the agricultural sciences, biofuels and animal nutrition sectors, as well as with the contract research industry. ‘The pharmaceutical sector is already fairly crowded with informatics providers, and so we are focusing our expertise in other industry segments, rather than encroaching on an already well-served industry, he added.’


TRACKING PATIENTS NOT SAMPLES Seeking out markets other than the traditional pharmaceutical application has been a theme common to many of the reports carried by Scientific Computing World over the course of this past year. It is perhaps not surprising that Starlims, following its take-over in 2009 by Abbott, a global healthcare company, should turn its eyes to the healthcare market. According to Simon Wood, general manager


for EMEA informatics for Abbott, one of the advantages of the tie-up was that Abbott is a very large company ‘and this gives us financial security and the ability to go and invest in the development of new products – specifically our healthcare informatics product.’ In the past, the healthcare informatics market


and the traditional LIMS market have been very separate. Even the acronyms were different: companies selling to hospitals provided LIS (laboratory information systems) and they tended not to compete with suppliers of LIMS. Abbott Informatics is focusing initially on developing a system for the UK and European market, with a plan for later expansion to serve other regions. In related areas, according to Wood: ‘We do play in the kind of commercial reference labs that do specialist clinical testing’. Progress in this market has already been global. Making the system easy to configure and


implement is just as much a theme in this sector as for the disruptive technology upstarts of the cloud providers. According to Wood, in the healthcare arena, ‘the key thing that we’re after is how do we differentiate ourselves from those established players, all of whom have been in the market for a significant amount of time now? We are really looking at bringing in our much more modern technology to meet the needs of customers.’ Abbott hopes to change the model of


implementing the system, so it becomes easier to configure and eases the task of upgrading, taking advantage of the latest technology and porting data, some of which – given the clinical setting – may have been around for up to 20 years. Again, it is about having solutions sitting on top of a core technology that are tailored for a specific application, so expansion into healthcare will


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