Allotrope Foundation is a collective of pharmaceutical and biotech companies working together (despite being market competitors) to reach common ground on laboratory network communication. The idea is to bring instrument manufacturers, software vendors, and end users together to come up with a more automated, intelligent analytical laboratory model, sharing knowledge in the process.
The group first gathered in 2012 to share ideas in the arena of intelligent laboratory technology. In just a few months, the team has moved from concept, to implementing its first proof of concept (PoC) application, using an open framework to manage data using a common set of standardized tools.
The process of coming up with the PoC has been very hands on.
“We believe in learning by doing,” Paul James Jones of Boehringer-Ingelheim, an active Allotrope Foundation member, told FoodProductionDaily.
Ralph Musgrove, COO of Osthus, told FPD the Allotrope Foundation has been working in close collaboration with a range of vendor partners to come up with a workable solution.
“It’s very critical for us to work with the vendor community, to achieve adoption and sustainability,” Musgrove said. “This ensures our goals are in line with openness, that we achieve an equal-opportunity network, and all partners get access to info at the same time.”
Musgrove added the goal of the Allotrope foundation is to create a “vendor-agnostic” system that is effective across different types of environments, and works with different equipment and technologies.
From pharma to food
The current Allotrope Foundation partner roster comprises largely international pharmaceutical firms, such as GlaxoSmithKline, Baxter, Pfizer, Roche, and others. However, Jones pointed out, the technology is designed in such a way that it very easily could be extended to food environments, or any others using laboratory equipment to test for product safety, authenticity, and other factors.
“The idea is to build something that is extendable and can be duplicated,” he said. “It makes no sense to develop something static."
Keeping up with progress
Laboratory equipment across all industries is advancing rapidly, Jones said. By engineering a laboratory communication system that is flexible to keep up with technological advancement, they also are orchestrating a system flexible enough to be used in food safety testing and other applications.
“Especially in the pharmaceutical industry, there is a lot of technological evolution going on,” he said. “By its very nature, the framework is being designed to be adaptable.”
Allotrope Foundation representatives spoke to FPD at Pittcon 2014, an annual conference and exposition that showcases analytical technology applicable to food safety, medical testing, and other arenas. The event is taking place in Chicago March 2-6.