It’s an understatement to say that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created huge changes for all.
Many of us have become accustomed to the home office set-up, unable to travel, meet face-to-face, collaborate or exchange ideas and experiences. Personally, I have very much missed the comradery of meeting customers in their lab environment. However, as with so many other workplaces, Dotmatics has been working hard to minimize the impact of these changes and keep those important exchanges going.
In this spirit, we launched Dotmatics Digital, a series of webinars covering a wide range of topics from small molecule discovery and biologics to R&D IT, hosted by Dotmatics staff and wider industry colleagues. Some personal highlights for me included Raquel Miranda Hoggett’s (Roche) talk on Reaction Explorer, a graph analysis technique for compiling information on reaction pathways across large sets of individual experiments, and Jarrod Medeiros’ (Casma Pharmaceuticals) talk which focused on transitioning IT infrastructure within an early-phase company to support rapid scale-up.
Then we turned our focus to Chemicals & Materials, a strategic area for Dotmatics. Customers, the likes of Clariant and Firmenich, have identified the importance of a data-centric platform to support their innovation. Partnering with Dotmatics has allowed them to guide development of functionality in formulations and process representation, key to their end-to-end R&D workflows. Along with my colleague, Chad Dow, Principal Application Scientist, we presented an overview of the R&D workflows that we’ve been working on recently and took the opportunity to introduce BioBright, highlighting the impact that the acquisition will have on lab digitalization. As part of the Q&A, we discussed high-throughput screening applications to formulations research and integration scenarios of 3rd party systems, e.g. LIMS, into the Dotmatics platform.
Next up was Joachim Dickhaut, Senior Principal Scientist in the agricultural division at BASF and responsible for the Dotmatics implementation there. Having not been able to record his presentation, I’d like to share what were some of the highlights for me. Joachim and his colleagues are trying to solve the structure-property-relationship problem, -i.e. designing a molecule with desirable agrochemical performance characteristics using chemistry screening techniques. A fundamental challenge that many of you might be experiencing yourselves, the interesting thing for me was that Joachim told this from a data aggregation and data utilization perspective, rather than a data capture point of view. While the agrosciences division had already implemented third-party systems for data capture, the initial challenge was to make their research data more actionable to their scientists. This was accomplished by implementing Vortex, with its intuitive, versatile scientific data visualization and analysis capabilities. The next step was to simplify data aggregation across multiple data sources using Browser. Researchers had outgrown their existing query interfaces while at the same time the volume and complexity of data had steadily increased. Joachim emphasized that we, the scientists, “get paid” to extract knowledge from the wealth of research data that is generated in the lab and that therefore the ability of an R&D IT system to make the data available to scientists is key – a topic that we at Dotmatics have discussed on various occasions under the term data intelligence. Finally, their infrastructure came full circle as they engaged with us to replace their existing electronic lab notebook with Dotmatics Studies Notebook. This is an effort that is still actively underway, and we are looking forward to supporting BASF into the future. With huge thanks to Joachim for such an insightful talk, we hope that you will be able to catch one of his presentations in future events!
We then changed gears to a panel discussion, joined again by Joachim Dickhaut as well as Peter Rissel (Altana) and Valentina Woodcraft (DuPont de Nemours). This lively conversation explored digitalization strategies, business justification, change management and IT considerations. The discussion, and event as a whole, was a very unique opportunity to have our customers and partners engaged in a manner that would have been challenging to organize in-person with such a geographically diverse audience and presenting panel. Perhaps in some ways the COVID crisis has encouraged us to get creative with how we communicate with each other, with events such as this being the fantastic outcome.
Consequently, we have moved our annual user group meeting to an online event, allowing us to recast it as a global event. Registration is now open, and I’d like to take the opportunity to cordially invite you to join and explore with us, how we can grow together in times where we otherwise have to stay physically apart. Look forward to seeing you on October 14-15th.