SmartLabs UK is just days away from taking place in the capital of the country, and we’re proud to be sponsoring the 4th Annual SmartLabs Congress 2022 in London this year. Here, we explore what the two-day event will entail.
On the 8th and 9th September 2022, the Novotel London West will open its doors in welcoming leading experts of the lab informatics field to educate, inform and excite. From technical presentations to think-tank roundtable discussions, we had to join in.
Within a post-pandemic society, our reliance upon digital technology is greater than ever. In the field of life sciences, lab scientists are seeking better ways of consolidating and storing data. While paper-based labs are largely a thing of the past, many are filled with isolated information systems and nonstructured approaches, such as experimental workflows based at least partly in Excel.
Not only do such environments risk human error in transcription and duplication they restrict the organisations’ ability to search and mine data for critical insights.
Removing these disjointed workflows and dataflows are a key part of the wider digitalisation processes which are taking place throughout the lab space. It is no longer enough for laboratories to solely rely on LIMS, ELN, SDMS and instrument data systems.
It is important for the Scimcon team to stay ahead of the zeitgeist from customer-to-customer. Keeping up to date with current trends in lab informatics is at the heart of what we do.
What has this got to do with Oxford Global’s SmartLabs UK? The event will be split into two easy-to-follow streams, featuring all things lab informatics. If you’re unsure of what the latest innovations are, SmartLabs UK will provide the latest updates via over 50 cutting-edge presentations and a series of interactive discussions.
With virtual events becoming the norm in recent years, it is exciting for attendees to be given the opportunity of an in-person, collaborative experience. Day one of Oxford Global’s SmartLabs UK involves the exploration of monitoring and operational tools, and virtual reality tech demonstrations. Day two will delve into data standardisation and governance in lab informatics, and this is just the beginning. Some of the confirmed leading experts attending the event include the Genentech Director, Erik Bierwagen and Goldsmiths University professor, Larisa Soldatova.
If you think you’ve heard all of the latest informatics tools and technologies that are available, one of the benefits of attending SmartLabs UK will be the advice given on how to use these systems to leverage your data. After all, it is vital to understand how to put theory into practice. Taking advantage of the event’s opportunity for interaction, the 4th annual congress will provide an Event App. This will allow attendees to watch selected presentations on-demand, and contains extensive networking features. The benefits of using the app include; a dynamic agenda in which you will receive notifications of any changes to the day, a chance to the view the profiles of all speakers and organisations and a personalisation tool that allows you to organise and plan your schedule. There will also be an Event App prize draw for those participating in specified activities throughout the event.
As programme sponsor of Oxford Global’s SmartLabs UK, we are thrilled to assist in paving the way to laboratory digitalisation through automation, cutting-edge informatics tools and technologies. We believe that the digitisation of your laboratory projects should be done with the best advice and trusted expertise behind you. In turn, this is vital for the healthy reproduction of the life sciences industry.
Throughout the event, you can expect to receive this information in an engaging, illuminating way and through a variety of mediums. We will help to deliver think-tank discussions as well as trusted, face-to-face conversations with our team members who have direct lab experience. For those who prefer independent research and networking, we support the use of the Event App for all your lab informatics queries.
To organise a meeting with our team at the event, or to learn more about how Scimcon can support your digital lab transformation, contact us today. To learn more about lab informatics read more on our blogs via our website.What can we expect from Lab of the Future??
With the March congress on the horizon, we take a look at some of the trends within the industry over the last year, and what to expect from the March event.
It’s not a surprise that, with the impact of the pandemic, the importance of digitisation has been heavily reinforced. In early 2020, we reflected on Scimcon’s experience of providing remote support to clients and some of the changes we witnessed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now almost two years on, we’re seeing a new way of working across labs and organisations.
With digital transformation hot on the global agenda, what’s next for analytical and clinical laboratories? What will the lab of the future look like? Lab of the Future’s March congress aims to answer that question.
With a selection of activities scheduled across the 2-day event, there is no shortage of opportunity for attendees to get involved – whether that’s in-person in the Boston, MA event, or from the comfort of their own workspace via virtual attendance.
The agenda features a range of roundtables and presentations, including plenary sessions, as well as more focussed discussions on specific topics, from the digital lab to the connected innovation lab. The tradeshow will also feature plenty of networking session throughout, allowing individuals to form valuable new connections and learn more about some of the key players and innovation across the industry.
The event also welcomes a wide of speakers presenting and hosting discussions during the 2-day period. With confirmed speakers from GSK, Merck, Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Astrazeneca, amongst many others, it’s guaranteed to be an event filled with interesting discussions from some of the organisations that have become household names over the last 24 months.
In addition to discussions, the event is also hosting technology showcases, for leading solution providers to demonstrate some of the latest and most disruptive innovation that they’ve been perfecting behind the scenes. Focussed work tracks also allow attendees to take a more in-depth look at some of the latest technologies and trends in 4 key areas – lab automation, digitalisation, connectivity, and innovation.
Lab of the Future is an insightful event, and one that we look forward to as well as sponsor each year. The in-person aspect of the event will make for a refreshing change following the pandemic restrictions experienced worldwide, but the additional virtual element of the tradeshow means that users around the globe can participate and get involved, regardless of restrictions and concerns surrounding COVID-19 and travel.
However, in addition to the event, the lab of the future is a concept. Our team at Scimcon has over 20 years of experience in laboratory informatics, and with many of our team members having direct lab experience, we can help you get your digitisation and laboratory informatics project off the ground, whilst understanding the questions and concerns faced by scientists every day.
Scimcon is proud to be sponsoring the Lab of the Future March congress, taking place both virtually and in-person at Hilton Back Bay, Boston, MA on 22nd-23rd March 2022. To organise a meeting and to learn more about how Scimcon can take your lab to the future, contact us today.
Do you need improved laboratory informatics systems?
Systems such as LIMS, ELN, LES, SDMS and CDS can contribute significantly to increasing efficiency in the lab, releasing time for core science activities and enabling a wider audience to utilise valuable scientific data.
These systems, of course, come in a variety of formats suited for different industries and processes, from the earliest stages of cutting-edge research to the defined workflows in QC laboratories.
There is a myriad of drivers for adding or upgrading such systems however these drivers are nearly always linked to delivering faster decisions, that are more accurate and that are made with increased confidence.
Where should we invest next?
With a plethora of informatics systems all competing for your organisation’s attention, it can be complex to decide your next move. The existing systems landscape within a laboratory adds to this conundrum, as few labs are greenfield these days. Decisions on information systems made several years ago contribute to systems entanglement that influences todays’ direction.
Developing a laboratory information system strategy that defines the desired target state of systems can vastly assist in taking decisions in the short and medium term that deliver real impact without tying your hands in the longer term.
A great example of long-term goals effecting current decisions is a project we worked on twenty years ago. We worked with a Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) company to implement a LIMS, configured to manage the day to day activities of new formulation research. A key requirement was to output the formulation candidate results to what would have been called a data warehouse back in the day. This ‘pool’ of successful and unsuccessful formulation data was to be used by statistics applications to predict interesting formulation areas. The future state being that this data analysis would reduce the number of formulations tested to produce a new product. Crucial in such a competitive space, this would ultimately reduce time to market. Interestingly, over the yearsthe LIMS used by this global company has changed several times, but the project to predict formulations is still a keystone of their information systems strategy.
This example was not chosen randomly, this challenge of balancing the provision of correct tools to support ‘bench science’ and enabling repurposing data for ‘desk-based science’ is of great significance to the life sciences industry.
Laboratory Information Systems Strategies
Information system strategies start by clearly defining what laboratory objectives are required in order to deliver the organisation’s overall business plan. Investigation workshops can then be structured with a cross section of laboratory personnel centred on both the laboratory objectives and the requirements of current and potential systems. Systems currently in place should also be evaluated typically assessing their Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT).
The information gathered in the discovery phase can then be used to document the current state, develop the future state and importantly create a prioritised blueprint of how to move to the future state.
The diagram shows a typical laboratory information systems landscape.
The diagram is of course generic and simplistic, some systems will be relevant to some organisations and not to others. Even when you have a well-defined systems high level plan, there are still many details to resolve. Questions such as which processes / data do we include in ELN vs LIMS? Is one vendor for multiple systems better than multiple best of breed vendors? How master data are created and shared can derail the strategy if they are not approached with care.
Keeping the IS strategy alive and aligned to the organisation’s plans is critical to achieving long term benefits.
As the picture of the new landscape starts to become clearer, now is the time to consider the governance and maintenance of the IS strategy.
In addition to ongoing governance, it is important to keep a watchful brief on new technology. I recently heard an industry insider decry the future of ELN and LES, ‘they will wane in popularity and disappear’. While I don’t think this will happen, I can imagine a future where ELNs and LES are driven by voice commands and VR tools, such as Microsoft HoloLens, which could be used to replace existing keyboard, mouse and monitor interfaces.
Another good example is the use of vendor neutral instrument data formats. These have been touted as the future of archive and data reuse for a considerable number of years. However, with the ever-increasing emphasis on ‘desk-based science’ and the growing interest in AI and ML, this could be ‘vendor neutral data format’s’ time in the spotlight.
IS strategies develop a structured approach for IS projects and focus your budget on achievable business objectives and promise a step change in utility for scientists.
But until more companies start to adopt best practice approaches to IS strategy, they will struggle to get the most out of their investments, not to mention the knowledge, data and resources trapped in their organisations.
Scimcon has worked with many lab-based clients throughout our 20 years in the industry, across a vast range of projects. Here we discuss the current challenges that labs are facing in 2020, and the work that needs to be done through digital transformation to ensure that labs in the future can streamline and manage their data.
The limitations of the current laboratory information systems landscape
Today’s labs are facing similar challenges as camera companies. Camera manufacturers such as Nikon and Canon are now faced with the challenge of selling to a new generation of budding photographers, most of whom by now have grown up with increasingly higher-quality smartphone cameras. As a result of having access to technology that is designed for ease of use, this generation of users find themselves progressively more frustrated with traditional technology and methods required to operate today’s ‘real’ cameras. Where smartphones can offer instant uploads to online services; amazing results that leverage computational photography; and synchronicity between multiple devices, traditional cameras appear complicated, difficult to control and impractical. Camera companies therefore face the challenge of building usability, such as that found in smartphone cameras into their existing products, otherwise they risk losing a whole demographic of potential customers.
The analogy is that modern labs are facing a similar problem. As new generations of scientists join laboratory settings, many are finding the lack of synchronicity and usability of information management systems increasingly frustrating. Why can’t we check instruments remotely whenever we want? Why can’t data be easily transferred between devices or colleagues? Why isn’t all this information seamless? Limitations such as these can be hugely time-consuming, as well as resulting in reduced productivity and security risks for data with minimal protection. Similar to the camera makers, we are risking losing the best new talent to other areas of science. Digital transformation addresses these challenges head on, with the proficiency to make your lab more intuitive and efficient.
What is digital transformation and how can it enhance your current lab setup?
Digital transformation involves the integration of new technology and methods into existing lab technology. Although this advancement in technology is a relatively new development within the laboratory setting, lab managers are quick to realise that digital transformation is essential in optimising workflows and productivity. In 2018, 70% of labs were reported to have a digital lab strategy in place or were working towards one1– a number that we can only expect to have significantly increased since then.
Significant effort has taken place in laboratories over the past two decades or more, which has delivered substantial benefits. This effort has been focused on the key lab workflows and the matching informatics systems such as CDS, LIMS, ELN, LES and SDMS, to mention a few. The next decade needs to build on this success to create a true digital laboratory.
Digital labs of the future: what can we expect?
Digital lab transformation is more than just implementing informatics systems, it involves taking these systems and pushing them a step further. For example, a lab could connect instruments bi-directionally to LIMS or ELN, but digital lab transformation would also facilitate online monitoring of instrument status, automatic ordering of consumables, reserving instrument time, auto-tracking utilisation and the use of telemetry data to predict faults before they happen.
A digital lab may also utilise a feature rich LIMS, ELN or LES that enables collation and review of all results for an experiment, but a digitally transformed lab would also be able to collate results across potentially several LIMS and ELNs throughout an organisation. This would allow the promotion of internal and external collaborations, enabling the ‘science later’ paradigm of cross team, cross technique and cross experiment data mining. This, in turn, will progress artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Overall, a digital transformation is more than just providing scientists with the means to spend more time on actual science. It provides the complete toolset of a lab wherever a scientist may be, whether that is in the lab itself, in an off-site office, in a café or even at the kitchen table.
At present, even top laboratories face problems with a lack of modernisation, and this is a problem that is slowly trickling down to smaller labs that are starting to face similar challenges. If we continue to drive forward with the help of innovative technology, we could expect to see many labs becoming more efficient, more supportive of science and more reliable than ever before.
However, to do this, it is up to laboratory leaders to have a clear vision of where they see their lab going. It is hard to transform any business by only doing little bits, so it is up to the higher levels of lab personnel to decide what steps to take to ensure that their labs are working at optimal capacity and potential. This is where Scimcon can help.
How can Scimcon help to revolutionise your lab?
Scimcon is proud to offer a range of digital lab services to assist in digitising a lab, many of which are outlined in our introductory blog. We are also able to help labs go that step further, with our collective wealth of experience in the lab, both as scientists and project leaders. Whether it is the development of the strategy, the running of the programme, or providing resources and leadership for your projects, Scimcon can help you understand what you want to achieve, and how to reach it.
To find out more about types of projects we support, and how we can help you to transform your lab, get in touch.
1 ‘Despite steady growth in digital transformation initiatives, companies face budget and buy-in challenges’, https://www.zdnet.com/article/survey-despite-steady-growth-in-digital-transformation-initiatives-companies-face-budget-and-buy-in/