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May 31, 2018
Bio-IT World Conference & Expo 2018—Data, intelligence, collaboration, automation and more
By: Brad Michel

It was my great pleasure to attend the Bio-IT World Conference and Expo 2018, held at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, MA from May 15 to 17. With almost 1,000 biotechnology companies ranging from small start-ups to billion-dollar pharmaceutical companies and many universities, Boston was the ideal backdrop for this event.

While the Accenture team has attended this conference before, this year was a particularly significant one for us as we were a major sponsor and used the event to showcase the new capabilities of Accenture Scientific Informatics Services. We presented in the R&D Informatics Track, and had a strong presence in the Exhibit Hall with over 25 team members from Accenture Scientific Informatics Services spending time with clients, colleagues and attending conference sessions.

Spanning three days, the event included 15 parallel conference tracks, featuring more than 280 industry and academic colleagues discussing themes including big data, smart data, cloud computing, trends in IT infrastructure, omics technologies, high-performance computing, data analytics, open source and precision medicine, from the research realm to the clinical arena.

Highlights and key themes included:

  • Data science, and its placement and prominence within organizations

  • Data stewardship and FAIR principles, focusing on the persistency of both data and metadata, in the context of both humans and machines, so information is accessible and can be effectively mined

  • Applying machine learning to define and diagnose rare diseases in record breaking timeframes in the absence of human intervention in the diagnostic process
  • Reproducible workflows that can be used across platforms (for next-generation sequencing data analysis, for example) from Roche, Broad Institute, Google, Regeneron and others

Nods also go to:

  • TransCelerate for their presentations on data sharing and pre-competitive value
  • Bayer for their session on toxicology studies predicting clinical safety outcomes
  • Merck for their discussion of cross-departmental collaboration

Accenture’s Joe Donahue presented on the power of a pre-competitive technology platform for pharmaceutical research. It’s our view that the movement toward accepting pre-competitive collaborations in pharma combined with the benefits of true technology platform thinking, suggest there’s an opportunity for a new, open industry platform for research that can reduce IT costs, spur technology and scientific innovation, and provide a great user experience.

Such an open, pre-competitive research computing platform would establish an ecosystem environment that brings together “providers” (independent software vendors, content providers, consulting orgs, CROs, etc.) with “consumers” (pharma, biotechs and other research-intensive organizations) around a core data ingestion and aggregation engine enabled with services and security that support integration with shared and independent informatics tools.

Unlike traditional models for independent software vendor technology platforms, ensuring an open integration framework with publicly accessible application program interfaces (APIs) that allow applications to access and integrate with the platform, is important to drive both cost benefits and innovation.

It’s always fantastic to meet with industry colleagues, learn what’s new and share innovative ideas. Many thanks to the organizers for hosting another vibrant event.

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