integrity, as most credible cloud products come with robust, in-built security and regulatory frameworks. So, I expect to see increased adoption of these platforms.

Artificial intelligence For organisations dealing with large datasets, AI is a technology that holds significant potential to increase efficiency. Enhancing drug discovery is one application that is now a serious consideration for R&D firms. As data strategies improve through the adoption of advanced technologies, the amount of data that can be harnessed is growing. Many processes today are manual and

require human insight and interaction. Soon, AI and machine learning will be regularly employed for complex data analysis and, as machine learning algorithms mature, new use-cases will arise in drug discovery. Governments are also realising

the power of AI. So far, a total of 18 countries have committed to their own AI programmes, with funding ranging from $20m to almost $2bn. The application of AI for healthcare is clearly high on many agendas, as evidenced by a new partnership between the UK government and the life sciences industry that amounts to £1.3bn in funding. Its aim is to develop the next generation of life- saving treatments by studying five million healthy people and using AI to develop

22 Scientific Computing World October/November 2019

“As data strategies improve through the adoption of advanced technologies, the amount of data that can be harnessed is growing”

new diagnostic tests. The US has also taken steps, with President Trump recently launching the American AI initiative. The policy will provide funding and resources for AI-specific research, while also implementing US-led international AI standards.

Millennials in labs By 2025, 75 per cent of the workforce in national labs will be made up of millennials. This generation is bringing their own specific needs and expectations when it comes to the workplace, which presents an opportunity for R&D firms. Millennial workers are digital-natives

and are used to accessing information with ease, using a variety of platforms. They typically thrive on collaboration and are used to communicating through digital channels. Larger organisations, that are likely in the process of updating cumbersome legacy systems and business processes, are less able to utilise

the digital agility of millennials. Teams and processes in these firms are typically siloed, and outdated methods of recording and collating data are common. Updating systems and strategies,

therefore, has a two-fold benefit for firms. The adoption of advanced tools and technologies drives efficiency. But further to this, installing a workforce that is adept at working with digital assets enhances the benefits they bring.

Looking ahead

With global R&D spending in life sciences expected to grow by 3.6 per cent in 2019 to $2.3trn, there has never been a more exciting time to be part of the industry. With the ever-increasing development of advanced technologies, and uptake of cloud technology, life sciences firms will become more efficient and effective. Smaller contract R&D firms stand

to gain significant ground if they can prove themselves reliable partners in accelerating the delivery of life-saving drugs. Staying ahead of the competition by implementing some of the above will be key to establishing such a proposition.

Christian Marcazzo, vice president and general manager at IDBS, is responsible for running IDBS and growing the inforamtics solutions business of the Danaher Life Sciences Platform. Christian has a BA in molecular and cell biology from the University of California, Berkeley, and is based at IDBS’s HQ in Guildford, UK.

@scwmagazine |

Matej Kastelic/

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