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BiotechX Europe Conference 2023 Highlights

Navigating the Biotech innovations

We recently had the pleasure of joining industry leaders, researchers, and innovators at the BiotechX Europe 2023 conference, which took place in Basil, Switzerland. The conference provided invaluable insights and perspectives on the industry’s challenges and opportunities today. Beata Zubaka, our New Business Manager, shared her key takeaways from the event.  

Drug discovery: the Cost and Time Challenge  

One of the paramount issues discussed at the conference was the rising cost and time required for drug development. Statistics from 2014 to 2022 reveal a disheartening trend: 

  • Drug discovery R&D efficiency per new drug skyrocketed to about $6.16 billion. 
  • The success rate plummeted from 16.1% to 6.3%. 
  • The investment return for late-stage projects in big pharmaceutical companies dropped from 7.2% to 1.1%. 

This data illustrates the pressing need for a new approach and a new strategy for drug development. 
The increasing cost and evolving requirements are among the primary reasons pharmaceutical R&D invests e.g. in genomics data processing. (read about the role of genomics data processing in drug discoveries here.)

Data Quality and Integration

A significant hurdle in the industry is getting data FAIR – which stands for trusted, correct, complete, and appropriate data. Achieving this requires addressing data quality, standards, and integration. However, this is often difficult due to differences in formats and quality from multiple data sources that cannot be merged. 

Neglected data lakes can become swamps over time, requiring extensive data engineering. Additionally, regulations and security concerns add complexity to data management. 

Typical statistics in the pharmaceutical field highlight the urgency of this issue: 

  • Finding and deciding on the right dataset takes 4-6 months. 
  • Accessing data takes 6-12 months. 
  • Converting unusable data into a usable format requires 6-18 months. 
  • Finally, deriving results from usable data also takes 6-18 months

The key to overcoming these challenges is providing drug discovery companies with the right data, effective data harmonization, and robust analytics. 

The Role of Digital Transformation in Pharmaceutical Innovation 

The conference underscored the growing significance of Digital Transformation within the pharmaceutical industry.

This transformation goes beyond embracing technology; it encompasses a holistic approach that leverages cutting-edge solutions to address the industry’s challenges. Pharmaceutical companies can address cost, data, and regulatory challenges by focusing on efficient project management and software development and adopting product-minded approaches while significantly speeding up the drug development process. 

Interesting findings were shared by the representative of Novo Nordisk, who identified four major drivers of digitalization in life science. 

  • Data Science: Human-centric discovery in science and medicine. 
  • Foundation: Utilizing analytical tools and a multitude of data sources. 
  • Scalability: Expanding capabilities and resources to meet growing demands. 
  • Automation: Incorporating technologies like barcodes, lab automation, and IoT in the labs. 

The Community of Practice

The concept of a Community of Practice (CoP) plays a significant role in pharmaceutical Research and Development (R&D). This approach focuses on knowledge sharing, setting standards and patterns, managing technology, driving innovations, and fostering continuous learning. Roche’s keynote presentation showed a good example of implementing this concept by creating an Academy covering the most needed topics for their teams to develop themselves, such as medical informatics, computational science, BI and Data Analysis, Data Engineering, and Data Science. 

Community of Practice is an indispensable asset in an industry where pursuing scientific breakthroughs is both a priority and a challenge. 

In summary, the BiotechX Europe conference served as a platform to highlight the pressing issues faced by the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, such as rising costs and data challenges. It also underlined the pivotal role of Digital Transformation and the benefits of fostering a Community of Practice to promote innovation and knowledge sharing within the industry. These insights will undoubtedly shape the future of biotechnology and healthcare, as the industry continues to evolve and innovate. 

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