Bruker Acquires ZONTAL, Boosting Digital Transformation in Pharma Laboratories

by Illia Petrov          Biopharma insight

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The pharmaceutical industry is undergoing a significant shift as digital transformation in pharma continues to reshape the landscape. Bruker Corporation, a leading provider of high-performance scientific instruments and solutions, recently announced its acquisition of ZONTAL Inc., a pioneering platform for the digital transformation of analytical laboratories and integrated biopharma data solutions. This strategic move strengthens Bruker's Integrated Data Solutions (IDS) software division, which includes Mestrelab Research, Arxspan, and Optimal.

ZONTAL's proprietary products offer an enterprise-class, GxP-compliant data platform that manages data throughout the product lifecycle, driving pharma digital transformation. By streamlining communication between IT systems and lab devices, preserving digital assets from various sources, automating manual processes through regulatory compliance, and enabling AI/ML-supported advanced analytics, ZONTAL is at the forefront of digital transformation in pharma.

Dr. Arndt Finkelmann, Research IT Lead at Syngenta Crop Protection, lauds ZONTAL's Analytical Data Hub for aligning perfectly with their scientific and analytical data strategy. He explained that Syngenta's plan involves entering more data and leveraging it for automated processes, embracing the digital transformation in pharma. Storing data in the cloud and transforming it into standardized open formats allows scientists across the organization to access raw and processed data for seamless analysis, ensuring complete reusability.

The integration of ZONTAL with Mestrelab Research, Arxspan scientific software solutions, and Optimal process analytical technology software will enable Bruker's IDS division to expand its unique vendor-agnostic software solutions portfolio. This expansion will help life-science, biopharma, and specialty chemicals customers accelerate research, product development, and process optimization, driving pharma digital transformation further.

Wolfgang Colsman, CEO and co-founder of ZONTAL, believes that ZONTAL's unique data platform for the life-science industry perfectly complements Bruker's scientific instruments and software offerings. By making data FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable), they aim to eliminate the biggest barrier to digital transformation in pharma. This will allow bi-directional communication between most types of instruments in the laboratory and all downstream applications, facilitating the increasing use of artificial intelligence in laboratory workflow optimization.

Santi Dominguez, Bruker IDS division president and co-founder-CEO of Mestrelab Research, expressed excitement about welcoming ZONTAL to the IDS division's portfolio. With ZONTAL's leadership team and talented employees, they will be able to provide an exceptional offering for the vendor-agnostic digital laboratory and biopharmaceutical process transformation, supporting the ongoing pharma digital transformation. This collaboration will enable the effective combination of various life-science tools, delivering integrated data solutions to analytical and data scientists and researchers, and realizing the vision of fully integrated, automated laboratories and manufacturing plants.

 

Remote Experimentation and AI-Driven Robotic Labs 

An important part of digital transformation in pharma is data generation and how it can be integrated with cutting-edge technologies to expedite the drug discovery process. Automated drug discovery is gaining traction as companies invest in innovative platforms and services to streamline their operations. In this related article, Companie Making Automated Drug Discovery a Reality, several companies are highlighted for their groundbreaking contributions to the field, including Strateos, Emerald Cloud Lab, Culture Biosciences, and Synthace. These companies are enabling remote experimentation and AI-driven robotic labs, which revolutionize the way research is conducted. By embracing these next-generation solutions, biopharma organizations can enhance efficiency, drive innovation, and ultimately bring drugs to market faster, while also making cutting-edge research more accessible to a broader range of scientists and institutions.

 

Embracing digital transformation in pharma 

As we delve further into the rapidly evolving pharmaceutical industry, it's clear that digital transformation in pharma is playing a crucial role in reshaping the landscape. 

While companies like ZONTAL, Strateos, Emerald Cloud Lab, and Cultura enable digital transformation in pharma by bringing cutting edge data management solutions and remote AI-driven lab infrastructures for automated drug discovery, it is important to understand a broader context pharma digital transformation and its impact on the industry as a whole. Here we share insights from Deloitte's 2021 analytical report "Biopharma digital transformation: Gain an edge with leapfrog digital innovation."

Deloitte's report highlights the urgency for biopharma companies to embrace digital transformation. In 2021, the survey found that certain digital technologies, such as the cloud (49%), AI (38%), data lakes (33%), and wearables (33%), had already been adopted in day-to-day operations. Furthermore, 82% of respondents agreed that digitalization would continue even after the pandemic ends. The conclusions in the report are even more relevant today in 2023, as digital transformation has accelerated at an unprecedented pace.

Digital innovation was reported as a strategic priority, with 77% of respondents stating that their organization views it as a competitive differentiator. To scale digital innovation, organizations need to address fundamental issues such as dedicated funding (59%), a better digital innovation strategy (49%), and the right talent (47%).

As organizations attempt to accelerate their digital innovation journey through leapfrog digital innovation, they should consider the following:

  1. Establish digital innovation north stars (e.g., patient-centered and seamless development) for each functional area that connect to overarching enterprisewide digital ambitions (e.g., faster time to market).
  2. Develop a purposeful portfolio of digital innovation that cohesively build on one another to realize north star aspirations.
  3. Determine the digital innovation approach by rethinking traditional IT approaches to evaluate and select one or more digital innovation archetypes (i.e., do-it-yourself (DIY) innovator, incubator, accelerator, crowdsourcer, venture capitalist) best suited to innovation goals.
  4. Design an operating model that provides dedicated innovation resources, outlines an overarching innovation process and success factors to measure progress toward north stars. Moving away from legacy budgeting models to iterative project-based financing could help ensure adequate funding for digital innovation.

In conclusion, digital transformation in pharma is revolutionizing the industry, and companies like Bruker Corporation are leading the way. The insights from Deloitte's report emphasize the importance of embracing digital innovation in biopharma to stay competitive and achieve success in this rapidly evolving landscape.

 

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