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What will 2018 have in store for R&D?

Welcome to our first Insight newsletter of 2018

It’s January, it’s raining (at least it is here in Guildford at IDBS HQ), all of the seasonal stores of office chocolate seem to have disappeared, and the post-Christmas blues really are in full swing. It can mean only one thing…

It’s that time of year again where we look into our crystal ball and take a guess at what the next 12 months – and longer – might have in store for R&D!

Solving today’s lab annoyances with tomorrow’s technologies

In previous years, we have discussed how the cloud will reshape R&D. By now, you probably know that the cloud can make it easier for organizations to implement new technologies quickly, easily and at a lower cost than before – but, have you considered how these technologies could change day-to-day tasks and jobs?

We often hear about about how the cloud can help businesses on a macro level, but in 2018, we think organizations will start to seriously look at how newly accessible technologies can help solve so many of today’s lab annoyances.

No more handwriting nightmares or keyboard faffing

Despite the technology already available, many laboratories still rely on paper notebooks for record keeping, and that can be really bad news if you’re working with colleagues whose handwriting is a bit ‘suspect’ (or, worse still, you’re the culprit)! Replicating experiments with illegible writing (further impaired by the inevitable coffee cup stain) can be nigh on impossible, and manual transcriptions can lead to compounded errors, costing thousands.

An electronic laboratory notebook (ELN) can solve the handwriting problem, at least for the short to medium term, but still means you might need to stop mid-experiment to record valuable information. But, there is another solution on the horizon: voice recognition.

In just a few short years, voice recognition technology has improved considerably. It’s likely you’ve already used a virtual ‘assistant’ like Siri, Alexa or Cortana, and it’s only a matter of time before similar technologies in the lab are capable of understanding and transcribing scientific terms and vocabularies.

Just imagine, no more handwriting and no more keyboards!


Make stock-taking and book-keeping a thing of the past

So, hands up, who really enjoys admin? Stock-taking and book-keeping are some of the lab’s most time-consuming and mundane tasks. As we enter 2018, it’s likely we’ll see technology taking more of these tasks away from human hands, freeing up time to spend on more valuable (and more exciting) activities.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags are a good example. They allow for the automated reading of data, meaning test tubes won’t need to be scanned or have their information manually inputted, because storage spaces — like IoT fridges — can automatically detect what is being kept, and where. As we look past 2018, this technology could even see laboratories ordering or re-ordering items that are running low, without the need for human intervention.

Stop chasing your tail with external partners

Despite the rise of CROs and CMOs in recent years, managing collaboration partners can still be painfully difficult. It’s easy to see why — with teams based in different locations, time zones, and using different technologies — transferring and managing data effectively is a tough ask.

When you’re paying for data, you shouldn’t compromise on data quality.

Cloud technology will be able to help you manage all your external partnerships from one platform. No more password protected emails, or internet transfers for data files. Instead, your partner’s results can be passed back directly into your ELN and even automatically checked for accuracy. Although not one for 2018, it’s even conceivable that your platform could one day be able to choose a suitable collaboration team for you, based on your project type and budget.

Looking to the future

With the rate at which technology is already evolving, the new, advanced systems already in development could find their way into your laboratory sooner than you might expect.

If you want to make sure your lab is ready to take advantage of these technologies in 2018, our expert team of consultants can help you get started. Contact us today to find out more.


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