Tuning the engine: four trends driving the future of lab informatics

Tuning the engine: four trends driving the future of lab informatics

Lab technology has gradually become the grease to the wheels of R&D teams. Next generation tools will be essential in dealing with the R&D challenges of tomorrow.

A number of leading thinkers at our recent Connect conference shared their thoughts on the subject, including Atrium Research and Consulting CEO Michael Elliott. We’ve picked out some of the key trends below that are shaping the future of the informatics superhighway.

A new end user?

The demographics of informatics users are shifting. Recent Battelle research suggests that marginal economic growth is likely to keep a lid on R&D spend growth in the US and Europe. Asia will soon overtake them in this respect.

This swing alone could trigger a series of changes for informatics products, pricing and deployment models. When Asia’s PHD-rich population becomes the biggest user base of informatics, the question will no longer be “how can we do more with less resources?” The question will be: “how can we do more with more resources?” This will push the boundaries when it comes to the needs and expectations of informatics users.

Costs up, spend down

The impact of this R&D spend plateau is magnified by rising costs. Research shows the cost of developing a new drug rocketed from £125 million in the 1970s to £1.2 billion in the 2000s. Equally significantly, R&D productivity is declining rapidly in areas such as clinical development. This confluence of challenges makes it increasingly important to hone in and improve every stage of the R&D value chain.

New drivers in a new landscape

Key drivers behind lab informatics have historically included risk avoidance, improving productivity and managing complex processes. The drivers for tomorrow’s users will be simplicity, agility, fostering innovation and managing knowledge. Lab informatics will evolve to serve this changing focus from boosting efficiency to creating tangible value.


Externalization is also a pressing issue. Driven by cost pressures, externalization is growing 10% a year. Working with more external partners means a more complex set of data types and that places an even greater burden on lab informatics. This shifting emphasis from internal capabilities to externalization, and the associated hurdles, will drive a growing need for inter-lab informatics to support a complex network of partners and IP producers.

As these trends converge and the drivers for adoption change, companies behind the technology will need to be agile and ready to adapt. With the digitally-native ready to get behind the wheel, the role of lab informatics in enabling R&D will only continue to grow stronger.