RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Knowledge is power. Work smarter not harder. Both principles drove the third annual Informing Innovation 2019 event hosted recently by the Life Science Intelligence team at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

Whether the 64 life science professionals in attendance sought guidance on what information is needed – and where to find it – for the fundraising process, conducting market research, monitoring required by regulators, or ongoing scientific research, experts and vendors were on hand to provide it.

The good news is that information is easier to locate and more affordable than many realize. That is why speakers focused much of the day on what tools are available free or at low cost, and best practices for using them, some from your own desktop or through the professional librarians at NCBiotech.

“We don’t want to be the best-kept secret of the Biotech Center,” said Lori Melliere, MSLS, MPA, outreach and client services librarian. “We want to demystify what we do and help life science professionals to know when they need to come to us versus when they can do some of the work themselves of information gathering.” As Melliere explained in opening remarks, Life Science Intelligence delivers targeted market and scientific insight to connect entrepreneurs and companies with the analysis and resources needed to inform strategic decisions.

Keynote funding panelists (from left) Vivian Doelling, Ph.D., Katie Warner,
Michael Carnes, Joseph Ruiz, Ph.D. (N.C. Biotech Center photo)

“We know that good data is critical to your operations and growth, but it can be difficult to access and time-consuming to find. So, we hope you come away today with actionable insight and new tools, no matter what role you play in your company,” she said.

In addition to connecting companies with information through Life Science Intelligence resources, the team provides many other services. Companies can even pay the team on an hourly or retainer basis to perform confidential customized search and compilation of information into reports, said Susie Corbett, MSLS, vice president of library and information technology at NCBiotech.

Fuel fundraising with the right facts

The keynote panel, moderated by Vivian Doelling, Ph.D., vice president of emerging company development at NCBiotech, focused on the information needs through the funding process from the perspectives of a startup co-founder, a commercialization counselor and a grant-writing specialist.

Joseph Ruiz, Ph.D., grant-writing specialist with Eva Garland Consulting and president of Enzerna Biosciences, which is developing a patented adeno-associated virus gene therapy for disorders such as myotonic dystrophy, said it is crucial that startups do proper market research to prevent possibly having to pivot later. He then shared the story of how Enzerna indeed did pivot based on new market research information.

Michael Carnes, technology commercialization counselor for the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC), recommended startups use the resources available through Life Science Intelligence at NCBiotech, SBTDC advice, input from potential customers and others to validate their value proposition, barriers to market entry and to gauge whether the market is big enough for what they want to offer.

“View your investors as customers of equity,” he added.

Katie Warner, co-founder and vice president of RNA biology at Ribometrix, which has raised $37.5 million and employs more than 20 full-time staff, expanded upon that idea by sharing what she learned as her company began fundraising.

“Make sure you have a plan for your value proposition,” said Warner. “Why should an investor care? You have to convince them they will get their money back.”

Streamline the search for information

One of two concurrent afternoon sessions demonstrated advanced searching techniques with Google and PubMed. The other delved into tips and free resources for finding and using epidemiological data necessary for defining and targeting your market for product development or telling your story to potential funders.

In between, experts drilled down in other sessions into specific resources and search methods for other information needs. Deanna Day, senior research analyst for SBTDC, demonstrated the basics of conducting a market landscape analysis and secondary market research sources for the information necessary to do so.

Eddie Gomez, corporate licensing manager for Springer Nature, provided insight on how to increase the discoverability of information within your organization and how new knowledge management developments can help your company predict trends and discover content.

Another session demonstrated how to use tools to monitor medical literature for regulatory requirements, including practices that streamline the process to manage your entire drug safety workflow. Bill Kivett, director of product management at ProQuest, explained why companies must monitor medical literature to remain compliant with regulatory agencies and the importance of being able to document clearly for auditors your process every step of the way.

“It if wasn’t documented, it didn’t happen,” he warned.

“You need to be aware that there is literature out there that you could be missing in order to be compliant,” added Penny Doane-Setzer, literature monitoring specialist at Dialog Solutions.

Concurrently, Nick Mitchell, Ph.D., solutions consultant with Clarivate Analytics, used sample cases to illustrate how bibliometric analysis can help identify new competitors, new collaborators and emerging opportunities.

Choose the right tools

Relying on the right tools – for market research or to ensure you are using trusted scientific research journals – was the focus of two other concurrent sessions. Nicole Camara, senior vice president of science and analytics at BioInformatics, LLC, taught participants how to select the right market research methodology based on your product’s evolution and budget. These included do-it-yourself tools, secondary, benchmark, quantitative and qualitative research.

Two customer consultants from Elsevier, warned participants in another session about the rise of new predatory scientific journals that pay authors to publish their work or even make bogus claims as to who is on their editorial boards. In addition to a list of specific practices to perform in vetting the authenticity of a journal, they recommended relying solely on these three publisher-neutral citation indices: the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed, Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science or Elsevier’s own product, Scopus.

Finally, two other concurrent sessions aimed to boost information literacy within biotech companies and to harness the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence in approaching research questions, respectively. Chappy Floyd, vice president of discovery innovation at EBSCO Information Services, provided guidance on techniques for vetting information and new research tools for searching and evaluating data.

Michelle Cawley, head of clinical academic and research engagement at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Health Sciences Library provided a breathtaking run-through of options for bibliographic search to refine, remove duplicate records, prioritize results and reveal hidden information. Options ranged from fully supervised search through various levels of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

(C) N.C. Biotech Center