How growing biotechs can use software to drive process improvements in the lab

BY Kyrstin Lulow
November 11, 2021
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Are you setting your lab up for order or chaos? Progressing therapeutic candidates to IND submission and into the market involves navigating numerous sophisticated stages of the R&D life cycle—each generating an abundance of data and opportunities for optimization. With the right software, growing biotech companies can organize any scientific workflow—from cell therapy to fermentation—into trackable stages and efficiently test new variations to optimize your outputs and hit key milestones sooner.

Based on our experience with hundreds of life science R&D companies, we’ve identified the key software processes that drive laboratory improvements—described here so your team can accelerate the path to a successful IND filing and beyond.

Organize and standardize your processes and experiments

Growing biotech companies face the transition from smaller scale discovery stages to tightly regulated bioprocessing and manufacturing stages. This transition brings new complex processes, new team members, and more departments, all of which need to fit seamlessly together to efficiently drive products forward and maintain compliance and safety. It’s no surprise that biotech companies are seeking digital solutions that can help them document, standardize, and contextualize processes to avoid chaos and boost productivity throughout R&D.

Here’s how you can use software to organize and standardize your processes and experiments:

  • Standardize notebook entry creation with pre-built or customizable templates
  • Register new samples directly from entries and link those samples to results data
  • Keep data organized by automating data entry through integrations and capturing results on a stage-by-stage basis
  • Structure experiment branching based on different inputs and conditions
  • Build workflow templates to align process execution across your organization

With Benchling, you can perform all of these tasks through our Workflows application and fully integrated electronic laboratory notebook (ELN), laboratory information management system (LIMS), and inventory management platform.

Workflows is purpose-built to help life science R&D teams organize any process into trackable stages and then capture results on a stage-by-stage basis. Because Benchling’s applications are seamlessly connected, you can link each Workflows stage to preconfigured Notebook entry templates, specific samples, and protocols to ensure your team performs and records every step of each process the same way, every time.

The Impact of Laboratory Process Improvements

Hear from Adicet Bio about how Benchling is helping them build the next generation of cellular therapies faster than ever before.

Watch the video

Compare results across multiple runs of the same workflow

You can ensure the consistency of your outputs and optimize your workflow by comparing the results of multiple bioprocessing, purification, and analytical runs.

To do this efficiently, use software that unifies your entire workflow, centralizes your data, and integrates with third-party data visualization and analysis tools (e.g., Tableau and SpotFire). This will empower your organization to track the progress of any R&D process and compare historical data to identify areas of improvement. You’ll also be able to iterate your processes and quickly determine the impact of new variations to optimize your workflow, eliminate bottlenecks, and flexibly adjust processes to support evolving research needs.

Here are some ways you can use software to compare results across multiple runs of the same workflow:

  • Build custom dashboards to visualize and monitor progress and pinpoint areas for improvement
  • Monitor and visualize results in real time in order to identify, test, and assess new process variations
  • Keep track of process variations as you modify workflow templates so you can compare results across experiments, studies, and programs

With Benchling Workflows as part of the unified Benchling platform, you can quickly compare the outputs, speed, and efficiency of your processes to identify predictors of success and failure.

The Impact of Laboratory Process Improvements

“Benchling became a universal source of truth and a super flexible system that allowed us to evolve rapidly.”
—Deven Dharm, Director of Software Engineering, Bolt Threads

Read the case study on how Benchling helped Bolt Threads optimize biomaterials R&D.

Coordinate work and resource utilization

Whether you are increasing the capacity of your bioreactors, expanding your portfolio of pipeline products, or initiating the manufacturing stages of your first therapeutic, maintaining productivity is a primary goal. However, with so many complex processes in life science R&D, a multitude of scientists, tasks, and resources need to be coordinated to establish and sustain a smooth-running workflow. Fortunately, modern software tools can help manage day-to-day activities and forecasting, even for research on the most cutting-edge therapeutic modalities.

The ideal software solution will give you insight into every active process, including the current status of each project, who’s working on each task, and the resources used and needed for each stage. Sophisticated software, such as Benchling, puts this information at your fingertips and offers seamless interfaces between research, process development, and manufacturing teams, so you can keep your projects on track and avoid unnecessary delays.

Here’s how you can use software to coordinate work and resource utilization:

  • Model any experimental process—even for complex large molecule R&D—as a digital, step-by-step workflow and orchestrate work across functions, teams, and instruments
  • Analyze long-term data to forecast resource requirements and identify and resolve bottlenecks to improve efficiency for each stage of a project
  • Establish repeatable processes to standardize data for scaling and automating experiments, surfacing deeper insights, and in preparation for regulatory filings

Elevate virtual R&D collaboration with Benchling’s unified platform — built to trace a full range of molecules and biological entities across R&D functions. It centralizes all data and establishes a connected instrument and software ecosystem to enable complete context transfer between researcher and development teams, streamline the sample hand-off and communication of sample info and results, and allow your team to standardize processes with customizable templates for notebook entries and results recordkeeping. With Benchling, your team can work better and faster, together.

The Impact of Laboratory Process Improvements

“For Jounce, the benefits were immediate. All the little things add up to the whole system being more intuitive, more efficient, and ultimately gives scientists more time to think about their experiments instead of thinking about the tools they have to work with.”
—Todd Rowe, Assoc. Director of Research Informatics, Jounce Therapeutics

Read the case study on how Benchling helped Jounce Therapeutics recapture lost time and value in their immunotherapy R&D pipeline.

 

Our Final Thoughts

For growing biotech companies, the state of data management is an obvious risk for moving the pipeline forward quickly and efficiently. Fortunately, software can help you organize, optimize, and coordinate any R&D process to drive laboratory process improvements. However it isn’t always one-size fits all.

Every biotech company differs in its processes, current stage of R&D, and future path, which is why Benchling offers a tailored approach to laboratory process improvement.

You may be a team transitioning from paper notebooks to an ELN, so starting off with our Notebook, Inventory, and Registry applications may be the right fit for you.  Then, when your organization is ready, you could adopt the Workflows application to manage everything from early research to development. Or perhaps you are expanding your portfolio with a new class of biologics—requiring an entirely new manufacturing process. You might generate the greatest returns by using the entire suite of cloud-based Benchling applications.

No matter your situation, with Benchling’s clean user interface, friendly system for broad applications, and easy implementation and roll out, you can organize, monitor, and optimize any process with ease to accelerate and derisk the development of the latest breakthrough discoveries.


Kick off your laboratory process improvements by learning more about Benchling Workflows.

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