Those of you who have been following Scimcon will know that in 2022, we launched our first ever Graduate Consultant Scheme, to bring fresh new talent into the lab informatics consultancy industry, and to help us expand our business by training the next generation of consultants. As we move through 2023, we are proud to announce that we have partnered with Sanctuary Graduates to launch our official Graduate Recruitment Programme, sourcing new talent to join our specialist team of lab informatics consultants, to globally support informatics programmes and projects.
Lab informatics plays an increasingly important role in delivering novel solutions to the challenges faced by modern laboratories. Scientific labs continue to become increasingly technologically driven. In the lab informatics arena existing technologies such as LIMS, ELNs, SDMS and complex instrumentation are now joined by digital transformation programmes not to mention the push to benefit from AI and ML advances.
Scimcon passionately believe that it is the responsibility of organisations like ours to facilitate the development of the next generation of specialist consultants and project resources.
Scimcon aims to contribute to this development goal by working with Sanctuary Graduates to bring new graduates into the lab informatics domain, to train from the get-go in the skills, knowledge, and project experience needed to build roles in the informatics business.
Successful applicants to the new Programme will receive in house training, and will build their experience by shadowing our ‘fully-baked’ consultants within life sciences, FMCG, and material sciences projects globally.
This opportunity allows new graduates to get their foot in the door of the world of lab informatics consultancy. Learning how to succeed in a wide range of projects from single systems implementations, such as LIMS/ELN, to rolling out central data management strategies across organisations, through to full-scale digital transformation projects. This unique opportunity results in successful candidates learning the role by actively being engaged in projects.
The team at Sanctuary Graduates is partnering with the Scimcon team to deliver the perfect candidates for the programme. With close relationships to universities across the UK, the Sanctuary team helps to bridge the gap by working closely with Scimcon, to learn more about the calibre of candidates the Scimcon team are looking for in new graduates – covering everything from academic background, to personality, and geographic location.
The Sanctuary team doesn’t just stop there. They reach potential candidates through a variety of digital and social platforms to provide an initial talent pool as wide as possible. This includes speaking with society leads at universities who pass job ads to members, advertising on platforms like Milkround and Indeed, and using LinkedIn to access a wide range of candidates entering the job market online.
In the same way that data is at the heart of what Scimcon does, data is also at the heart of Sanctuary’s business – candidate data is stored centrally together with very specific attributes. By working closely with Scimcon, Sanctuary can filter applicants by these attributes, with the goal of shortlisting the perfect candidates for interviews.
“There are a few key traits and qualifications we’re looking for when it comes to taking on new graduates within our programme” explains David Sanders, Head of Operations at Scimcon. “Of course, a background in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is the baseline requirement for us, and a good technical understanding in computer sciences or similar being highly desirable. We appreciate that graduates straight out of university will not have extensive industry experience, but academic background together with a willingness to learn and contribute to the success of Scimcon is what we’re looking for in a candidate.”
He continues: “There are other skills that differentiate one candidate from another. Proficiency in communication is key. We look for people that are confident, presentable, and able to demonstrate that they would be comfortable in a customer setting. The successful candidates will be exposed to client projects very early in their training, so it is important that they are inquisitive, are not afraid to ask questions, and can propose creative solutions to help resolve our clients often complex problems.”
Alex Antoniades, Graduate Campaign Manager at Sanctuary Graduates, shares more insight on what Sanctuary is looking for when recruiting candidates for Scimcon: “Working so closely with David has been really helpful, as he’s provided clear communication throughout the process, and we are fully aligned on what candidates need to be able to offer. Another key factor for candidates to consider is location – while many roles have moved to full-time remote, it’s clear from our conversations with Scimcon that on-site presence is necessary for a Graduate position, due to the technical nature of the work and the training required. This is something that we have made clear to candidates throughout our recruitment process – this isn’t a role that can be done from home from the outset, and candidates need to be willing to travel into the companies offices and globally to clients sites. It’s completely understandable for this role, and the great thing about Graduates is that many of these candidates are often fresh out of university, ready for a new start, and aren’t tied down to a particular location. It’s an exciting opportunity for Graduates ready to kick off a new career in an exciting and important sector.”
For more information about Scimcon’s Graduate Recruitment Programme, potential candidates are advised to reach out to the Sanctuary Graduates team via the website, or by contacting Alex Antoniades at email@example.com.
We also recommend following us on LinkedIn to stay up to date with what Scimcon is working on.Scimcon sponsors SmartLab Exchange EU and USA and identifies key themes at Europe event for 2023 lab informatics?
The SmartLab Exchange Europe 2023, whichtook place from 22-23 February in Amsterdam, Netherlands, is one of the global meetings for lab informatics leaders. Scimcon continues its proud sponsorship of this event, as well as this month’s North American event in San Diego on 22-23 March, facilitating one-to-one meetings with a number of informatics customers from all major lab-centric sectors. The continued sponsorship of the event provides access to the community of senior R&D, Quality Assurance and Quality Control decision-makers from industry in both North America and Europe.
Attending from Scimcon was co-founder and lead consultant, Geoff Parker, who took the opportunity to poll attendees and delegates of the attending organisations, to identify the current 2023 trends in the lab informatics industry. This includes R&D executives, Quality Assurance and Control leaders, and Regulatory specialists from organisations such as GSK, P&G, AstraZeneca, BioNTech, and more.
In the informal poll of attendees at SmartLab Exchange, Scimcon has been able to identify key trends and themes that are important to the modern lab in 2023.
Of the total 73 delegates polled, 68 delegates – with budgets ranging between 500k to millions in GBP – volunteered which technologies they are interested in investing in within the coming 12 months.
Some of the key investment priorities included:
When asked about additional investment priorities, 7 delegates stated that the following areas were also of interest this coming year:
Attendees also ranked their interests and what topics they wanted to address at SmartLab. As illustrated, lab automation, and AI/ML in particular, are high priorities for lab leaders in 2023, with other high priority areas including data quality and integrity, instrument connectivity and IoT, and data integration.
This year’s event also saw the Scimcon team hosting the opening panel discussion, ‘What is the future for human scientists as AI and ML deliver the promised step change in laboratory practice?’, where key opinion leaders were invited to participate in the discussion to kick off the event. Panellists at the European conference were Edith Gardenier from Genmab, and Andy Phillips and Robin Brouwer from AstraZeneca.
Geoff summarises “As lab informatics consultants with a global customer base in leading lab centric organisations, it is important to us to check in frequently with influential decision-makers from the lab. SmartLab Exchange offers us a useful ability to poll the attendees and see trends that will impact the modern lab decision-maker, and will help us at Scimcon to hone the way we partner with our customers. The attendees we spoke to were split between R&D and QA/QC – with 43% in R&D, 24% in Quality, and 16% in both. We very much look forward to catching up with delegates at the US event in March, and it will be interesting to see how trends and priorities differ or align between the US and Europe.”
SmartLab Exchange is attended by invite-only decision-makers. The unique invite-only format of the event means that both sponsors, speakers and delegates can access a closed community that meets their individual needs.
Scimcon is proud to continue its sponsorship of the SmartLab Exchange Europe and US events in 2023, and the team is excited to connect with delegates at the US event on 22-23rd March 2023.
To learn more about how Scimcon supports science centric organisations with data solutions and lab digitalisation, or to organise a meeting at the US event, contact us today.
To catch up on the themes discussed in our EU panel discussion, you can read our blog here.
In February and March 2023, Scimcon is hosting panel discussions at both SmartLab Exchange Europe and SmartLab Exchange US. The events, taking place in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and San Diego, North America take place on an annual basis as a forum for scientists in the modern lab to interact, form new connections, and learn more about the evolving technology that is disrupting the lab. Attendees and speakers will debate themes including: Lab of the Future, Data, Digitalisation, Quality Management and Standardisation during the conferences.
As a sponsor and panel chair in 2023, Scimcon’s opening panel discussion ‘What Is The Future For Human Scientists as AI & ML Deliver the Promised Step Change in Laboratory Practice?’ explored the future of human input in the lab, and how artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) could impact the structures and processes in place.
Following introductions by Birthe Nielsen of the Pistoia Alliance, the session discussions will be led by Geoff Parker, co-founder of Scimcon. The panel discussion in Amsterdam took place on Wednesday 22nd February 2023, and featured key opinion leaders on the panel including, Edith Gardenier from Genmab, and Andy Phillips and Robin Brouwer from AstraZeneca. The San Diego panel is scheduled for Wednesday 22nd March 2023, and panel participants include Robert Pluim from Genmab, Miu-Ling Lau from Merck, and Scott Stanley from the University of Kentucky.
AI and ML are everywhere we look – in the news, on our phones and other smart devices, and are increasingly making their way into other areas of our daily lives. In transport, we’re seeing steps being made towards self-driving vehicles. But what will happen to those engaged with the transport sector when human input is no longer required?
The same questions can be asked about the lab. We have seen similar disruptions in the past, and many scientists will still remember the days of cutting out chromatograms to weigh them and calculate peak areas – a task which now is fully automated. Through the employment of similar automated technologies – from sample prep, to HTS, and sophisticated instrumentation – we have been able to give more time back to scientists, to allow them to spend longer on the science that matters.
Our panel at SmartLab Exchange Europe and US will dig deeper into AI and ML, and how it will impact the role played by human scientists in years to come.
The panellists will debate the big questions facing scientists on the topics of AI and ML during the sessions, including:
Following the SmartLab Exchange, Scimcon will summarize topics of key interest to the audiences in a future blog.
To join the discussion and hear more how AI/ML will impact laboratories and scientific operations, contact our team for more information.Scimcon Sponsors Oxford Global’s SmartLabs UK?
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.
A few months ago I read an article on bioprocess 4.0, which discusses how combining AI and ML with extensive sensor data collected during biopharmaceutical manufacturing could deliver constant real-time adjustments, promising better process consistency, quality and safety.
This led to a discussion with some of my colleagues about what the future of Lab Informatics could look like when vendors start to integrate AI and ML into products such as lab information management systems (LIMS), electronic lab notebooks (ELN) and others.
AI: In simple terms, AI (artificial intelligence) makes decisions or suggestions based on datasets with the ultimate aim of creating truly instinctive system interfaces, that appear like you are interacting with a person.
ML: ML (machine learning) is one of the methods used to create and analyse the datasets used by AI and other system modules. Crucially machine learning does not rely on a programmer to specify the equations used to analyse data. ML looks for patterns and can ‘learn’ how to process data by examining data sets and expected outcomes.
The following example is extremely simple, but it helps to illustrate the basic principles of ML. The traditional approach to adding two values together is to include the exact way the data should be treated within the system’s configuration.
By using ML, the system is given examples, from which it learns how the data should be processed.
Once the system has seen enough datasets, the ML learning functions learn that A & B should be added together to give the result. The key advantage of ML is its powerful flexibility. If we feed our example system with new datasets, the same configuration could be used to subtract, multiply, divide or calculate sequences all without the need for specific equations.
Possibly without realising it, we already see ML in everyday life. When you open Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV+ the recommended selections you are presented with are derived using ML. The systems learn the types of content each of us enjoy by interpreting our previous behaviour.
Most of us also have experience of personal assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. These systems are excellent examples of AI using natural speech to both understand our instructions and then communicate answers, or results of actions. ML not only powers the understanding of language but also provides many of the answers to our questions.
The fact that we all can recognise such an effective and powerful everyday example shows just how far AI and ML have come since their inception in the 1950s.
Voice recognition software has been available for decades; however, it has not made large inroads into the lab. It has been used in areas where extensive notes are taken, areas such as pathology labs or for ELN experiment write ups. These are the obvious ‘big win’ areas because of the volume of text that is traditionally typed, the narrow scope of AI functionality needed, and the limited need to interface to other systems.
However, companies such as LabTwin and LabVoice are pushing us to consider the widespread use of not just voice recognition, but natural language voice commands across the lab. Logging samples into LIMS, for example, is generally a manual entry, with the exception of barcode scanners and pre-created sample templates, where possible. Commands such as “log sample type plasma, seals intact, volume sufficient, from clinic XYZ” is much simpler than typing and selecting from drop downs. Other functions such as “List CofAs due for approval”, “Show me this morning’s Mass Spec run” would streamline the process of finding the information you need.
Take stability studies where samples are stored in various conditions (such as temperature, humidity, and UV light) for several years and ‘pulled’ for analysis at various set points throughout the study.
The samples are analysed for decomposition across a matrix of conditions, time points and potentially product formulations or packaging types. Statistics are produced for each time point and used to predict shelf life using traditional statistics and graphs.
Stability studies are expensive to run and can take several years to reach final conclusions.
AI and ML could, with access to historical data, begin to be used to limit the size of studies so they can focus on a ‘sweet spot’ of critical study attributes. Ultimately, this could dramatically reduce study length by detecting issues earlier and predicting when failure will occur.
Instrument downtime, particularly unscheduled, is a significant cost to laboratories. Using ML to review each new run, comparing it with previous runs and correlating with system failures, could predict the need for preventative maintenance.
AI/ML interventions such as these could significantly reduce the cost of downtime. This type of functionality could be built into the instruments themselves, systems such as LIMS, ELN, Scientific Data Management Systems (SDMS) or instrument control software. If this was combined with instrument telemetry data such as oven temperature, pump pressure or detector sensitivity we have the potential to eliminate most unplanned maintenance.
Another major concern with instrumentation in labs today is scheduling and utilisation rates. It is not uncommon for instruments to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds/dollars/euros, and getting the highest utilisation rates without obstructing critical lab workflows is a key objective for labs. However, going beyond the use of instrument booking systems and rudimentary task planning is difficult. Although it is not hard to imagine AI and ML monitoring systems such as LIMS and ELN, there is far more that can be done to ensure this functionality can go even further. Tasks such as predicting workload; referring to previous instrument run times; calculating sample / test priority; and even checking for scientist’s free diary slots are all tasks that can be optimised to improve the scheduling of day-to-day laboratory work. The resulting optimisation would not only reduce costs and speed up workflows, but would dramatically reduce scientists’ frustration in finding available instruments.
Over the last few years, there has been a massive focus on data integrity within regulated labs. However, many of the control mechanisms that are put in place to improve integrity or mitigate issues are not real-time. For instance, audit trail review is often done monthly at best, and generally quarterly. Not only is it tedious, it is all too easy to miss discrepancies when reviewing line upon line of system changes.
ML could be used to monitor the audit trails of informatics systems and instrument systems in real-time and AI could report any out of the ordinary actions or result trends that do not ‘look’ normal to managers. Where appropriate, the system could interact with the corporate training platform and assign specific data integrity training to applicable teams. The potential increase in integrity of data while reducing the headcount needed to do so could be significant.
Lab directors, IT professional and the Lab Informatics industry are quite rightly focusing on the digital lab and digital lab transformations. Done right, this will form and excellent platform for the next level of informatics development using AI and ML to propel not just digital science forward, but to revolutionise the everyday life of scientists. Personally, I cannot wait!
To find out more about how Scimcon can support your informatics project, contact us today.