7 min readLab Automation – A European Perspective

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Advancements in robotics and information technology have transformed laboratory research from an endeavour characterized by tedium and individual skill to an efficient process focussed on higher productivity and increasing workflow efficiency. Research and development forms the foundation of the pharmaceutical industry. Advancements in robotics and information technology have transformed laboratory research from an endeavour characterized by tedium and individual skill to an efficient process focussed on higher productivity and increasing workflow efficiency. Research and development forms the foundation of the pharmaceutical industry.

 
For over two decades the pharmaceutical research and development segment has been profiting by automation due to the elimination of variability caused by human intervention, steadily progressing towards the ideal of a ‘completely automated lab’.
 
With an average drug development period ranging between 12 and 13 years and increasing cost of development each year any technique that could hasten steps like target identification and lead generation is welcome.
 
Lab automation systems on a broad perspective deal with instrumentation required for performing the biological analysis (assay) and the information management systems required to manage the deluge of data obtained from these assays.
 
With companies investing a sizable amount in this area, R&D expenses account for 15- 20 percent of sales (Chart 1), newer methodologies with focus on the ones saving time, human resources and increasing accuracy are sought after.
 
With technological advances in Optics, biomechanics, software and connectivity parallel applications are being developed to enhance the quality of pharmaceutical research.
 
The overall market for European lab automation products has been steadily on the increase owing to afore mentioned reason. The European lab automation equipment market was worth over $261 million in 2006 and is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9 percent from 2006-2012.

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