Navigation System for the Pharmaceutical Industry
The Eschborn start-up Innoplexus wants to make research faster, more comprehensive and more cost-effective.
Kno. FRANKFURT, May 16th. This phenomenon applies not only to the research-intensive pharmaceutical industry: There are more data than information, more statistics than findings, more facts than relevance. Any process that actually separates relevant information from “information noise” can be a competitive advantage. To date, scientists in a pharmaceutical company that are researching on a specific topic use either expensive Thomson Reuters or Palantir databases or scientist oriented Google products. They are provided with extensive raw data collections, but the time-consuming review still has to be carried out by the scientists themselves. Founded six years ago, the German-Indian company Innoplexus AG from Eschborn near Frankfurt, has set itself the goal of simplifying this traditional process of decision-making by researchers and physicians using artificial intelligence and thus making it faster and cheaper.
“In 2011, we looked at the diversity of decision-making processes in different organizations and found that technologies and models were available to support decision-making and were even sometimes used. Due to manual processing, however, data was often incomplete and delayed so that decisions could only be made after several months,” remarks Innoplexus founder Gunjan Bhardwaj, who after his studies in India received a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and came to Germany to continue his career here. “All the others from my graduation class have gone to America. Germany offers so many good opportunities. In business life, Germany is not as conservative as I was told before. I was always given many chances,” says Bhardwaj in conversation with this newspaper. “I was convinced that many analyses of existing data, which had previously been carried out manually and thus both costly and unproductive, could be automated with the help of new techniques such as machine learning and graph databases, and our know-how in the creation of conceptual environments (ontologies).”
This is done in several steps: All data that is available internally for a particular topic must be found and indexed, i.e. “crawled”. It is then necessary to automate the compaction of these data, to put them into context, and to link them with every other context. Thus, an objective foundation for decision-making is created. The gap that he and his friend Gaurav Tripathi saw between consulting and technology paradigms led to the founding of the German-Indian company with activities in Frankfurt, Stuttgart and the Indian city of Pune. The leap to America is imminent, because according to Bhardwaj, the United States accounts for about 45 percent of the world market. In order to gain information and knowledge about the development of medicines during the preclinical, clinical, regulatory and commercial phase, the company has now developed its own search application called “iPlexus”.
“iPlexus” understands biomedical concepts and give the user the possibility to obtain relevant search results in a given context over a variety of different data sources. These include scientific publications, clinical trials, patent data, experimental laboratory data, quality reports, regulatory approvals, analyst reports, company press releases, patient forums, congresses, and doctoral theses. To date, 200 terabytes of scientific data have been searched and indexed. And every day three to five gigabytes are added.
Bhardwaj is convinced that large pharmaceutical companies could save more than 50 percent of their efforts on competition analyzes and surveying the current state of scientific knowledge by using the existing but unused data more quickly and comprehensively. “Many IT departments of companies are trying to develop something similar, but this is not achieved because of the complexity of the topic and the immense development effort.” That is why Bardwaj, who has lived in Stuttgart for a few years, and who calls himself the “Indian Swabian”, is therefore certain that pharmaceutical core units such as research and development do often only get delayed (if at all) access to required data. Bhardwaj had initially worked for the consulting firms Ernst & Young and Boston Consulting Group.
Innoplexus has developed specially tailored applications for various tasks in the pharma sector. The goal of the company is that even small and medium-sized pharmaceutical companies, researchers, clinics and doctors use the web-based platform. The two founders of the company, which according to own data has invested more than 500 years of development time into its products, have great plans: Within a few years, sales beyond the billion limit are to be achieved. Together they hold the majority of the business shares.
Other shareholders are the HCS Beteiligungsgesellschaft as well as high-tech founder funds. The Supervisory Board is headed by HCS Managing Director Hans Christian Semmler. As well as the company’s founders, he envisions that the company will soon be able to offer the product to other industries, such as banks and insurance companies. A stock exchange on the new German market segment “Scale” is not planned for the next two years. To sales and profit just so much: The company is already working so that it can finance a large part of its growth on its own.