Technology plays a critical part in everything we do as a bioanalytical laboratory. Ensuring that we have leading-edge platforms and instrumentation, as well as subject matter experts who can effectively operate them, are paramount concerns for our operation, so that we can capture and deliver robust, accurate scientific data in an efficient manner.

When making technology purchasing decisions, there are a number of factors to consider – from cost to market needs to available talent. Each must be carefully weighed in order to maximize the ROI of any technology investments that are made. I recently participated in a panel discussion for Bioanalysis Zone themed around “the Business of Bioanalysis”, where leaders from different CROs shared their thoughts on this very topic. I have included some key takeaways from that discussion below.

Investing in Emerging Bioanalytical Technologies

Bioanalytical technologies are always evolving, and while as scientists we always want to test out the ‘latest and greatest’ offerings, it is important to choose the right time to purchase emerging equipment innovations. We can’t just bring in a new technology only for the sake of having it, or because it appears to be cutting edge. As a CRO, we are given precious non-clinical and clinical samples by our sponsors with the expectation that we will deliver quality data from their evaluation. Therefore, we must ensure that the platform selected to analyze those samples has been proven to be robust enough to generate quality results with great precision, accuracy, and reproducibility. That means that sometimes we need to wait a bit longer than research teams to purchase a new technology, so that we can see how the platform performs outside of the manufacturer’s labs and in the real world.

Additionally, as a CRO, we need to respond to market need. Providing access to one new platform over another may provide greater benefit to customers, and we must prioritize purchases accordingly. When investing in equipment for a regulated environment like ours, the total cost of implementation can be 2-3 times more than purchasing the actual technology, in order to validate and incorporate it into a LIMS system. This reinforces the need to invest wisely and selectively in platforms and instrumentation that will provide the greatest payoff – both from a science and business standpoint.

It is also important to keep in mind that the market demand for a new bioanalytical technology may not be high in its most early stages. Typically, it takes a few years for pharmaceutical and biotech companies to adopt new technologies, and then get to a point where they are looking to outsource work on that type of platform.

Decisions Through Strong Partnership

There are a plethora of vendors working to drive bioanalytical technology innovation every day, which can make it difficult to identify the right-fit solutions from all the options available. The ideal way to make the best technology purchasing decision is through partnership: which involves a well-developed understanding of the pharmaceutical company’s objectives, what the CRO needs to achieve those goals, and how the technology vendor’s platforms and instrumentation can be best leveraged to support the CRO’s work. Consistent communications with all involved partners will allow you to stay on the pulse of emerging technology developments, and to be in tune with what specifically your client is looking for in an outsourcing partner’s bioanalytical technologies.

In the end, we need to keep in mind that technology investment is a balancing act. We need to purchase early enough that we are being innovative, but not so early that we end up with unreliable equipment. In the end, I always want to make sure that we have reliable platforms that can generate quality data for our clients.

Supporting Technology with Talent

New and innovative technology does not operate in a bubble. In order for these platforms to be effective, they need to be operated by top talent that has expertise in how to use them. Ideally, you need the right people to run the equipment, as well as the right regulatory expertise to address future opportunities with the bioanalytical technology.

At BioAgilytix, we have found that universities are not producing the people with the exact knowledge to be immediately successful in our highly complex scientific disciplines. Because there are a limited number of scientists out there with ready-made expertise, it is important to provide hands-on training to new employees to familiarize themselves with the technology platforms they will be using daily (not just having them read SOPs for a couple of weeks). Our scientists have initiated a program called BioAgilytix University to essentially provide continued education in our specialties, internally. We truly invest in our people so that we can have the best scientists to operate our technologies and ultimately produce positive results for our clients.

Watch part 1 of the panel series below to learn more about emerging technologies in the business of bioanalysis:

You can also speak to one of our scientists to find out how we can apply our advanced bioanalytical platforms to your large molecule project.