Data is the new oil – it needs to be refined | BPI Europe Amsterdam 2018

The general theme of this year’s Knect365 Bioprocess International European Summit was best summarised by Günter Jagschies from GE Healthcare with his statement of:

“Data is the new oil. It needs to be refined”

Whilst there was the usual plethora of talks focussed on the upstream and downstream processing of biopharmaceutical products, especially around mammalian cell lines (CHO) and vaccine production, the central theme to many a discussion was the critical need to improve how the industry collects, handles and interprets data.

One speaker summarised this, by stating that the bioprocessing sector needs to move along the digitisation pipeline, from data, to information to knowledge and finally to wisdom (prediction). To reach a state of data driven process wisdom, the industry needs to rapidly accelerate the adoption of a suite of enabling technologies including: simulation, automation and horizontal/vertical systems integrations (Internet of Things and Data Integration). Several speakers also drew out specific areas where a quick-win could be established within the bioprocessing industry: the universal adoption of multivariate analysis (Design of Experiments, DOE) and in-line Process Analytical Technology (PAT) (e.g. Raman) being two such areas. Other speakers, such as Niklas Engler from Roche went higher level saying that an operating system for bioprocessing is desperately needed and fast!

“We need all the data generated captured on one system to make use of it. Data scientists and lab scientists/engineers working hand in hand is critical”

— Niklas Engler (Paraphrase)

But what of resistance to digitisation from the bioprocess community? Jorg Thommes from Visterra, shared his thoughts succinctly as:

“If it’s not broken, break it and rebuild it better”

In respect to this statement, the point being made was that we need to be disruptive (some may call this intrapreneurship), especially at an organisational level in how the industry delivers improvements in process development and manufacturing. Again, the answer suggested here was – data and digitisation.

The other theme that was strongly emphasised was Bioprocess Intensification. Bioprocess Intensification can be broadly defined as “doing more with less” and is the next logical step in driving down product COGs (previously focus was on increasing titres and reducing CapEx). Ways to do this that were discussed during the event included: to increase throughput either by continuous manufacturing or shortening run times e.g. by increasing cell numbers in mammalian processes using perfusion systems.


Synthace was a sponsor of the Bioprocess International Europe Summit 2018, we will also be speaking at the BPI summit in Boston in September 2018.